Tea Dictionary

Assam - Tea harvested originally in Assam, India (used in Irish breakfast teas). It is actually a different varietal of tea, Camellia Assamus.

Black Tea - These teas are fully fermented or oxidized. Darjeeling, Assam, are included in this type of tea. The longer the leaves are fermented, the darker they become, which is why black tea is darker than oolong, and oolong is darker than green tea.

Brick Tea - Green tea steamed, dried, then pulverized into brick form.

Camellia Sinensis - The Tea Plant. The differences between the over three thousand types of tea result from variations in the processing of the leaves after they are harvested. Tea is an evergreen shrub which grows in tropical or sub-tropical climates. See Green Tea, Black Tea, Oolong and White Tea. Assam is actually Camellia Assamus.

Ceylon - Black Tea harvested in Sri Lanka, which used to be called Ceylon.

Cha - The way to say "Tea" in China, for more information, see the Tea by Region page, for 27 ways to say tea around the world.

Chanoyu - Japanese Tea Ceremony with its roots in Zen Buddhism. For more see The Teapot Page.

Darjeeling - Tea harvested in the Darjeeling region of India.

Dragonwell Tea - Green Tea from China, which is noted for its cooling effect in hot weather.

Genmaicha - also called "popcorn tea", this is Japanese Green sencha leaves blended with roasted rice, which sometimes pops during shipment, and resembles popcorn.

Green Tea - These leaves are light green and are not fermented. The supposed benefits of Green Tea include a longer life and recent studies have associated this tea with anti-carcinogens. There are two types of green tea, Steamed and Kiln-roasted. Steaming the tea takes out its bitter taste.

Gunpowder Tea - Green Tea from China that is rolled into fine pellets that "pop" when infused. Morrocans use this for mint tea.

Herbal Tea - Not considered Tea by purists, but a tea nontheless. Jasmine, Chamomile and Mint are some popular varieties. Berries, herbs and spices are included in Herbal teas.

Hojicha - Green tea that is left flat (not rolled) and oven roasted after manufacture.

Infusion - simply put, herbal tea, called Tisane in France.

Keemun - Black Tea harvested in the Anwhei Province of China, appreciated because, unlike other teas, it actually gets better with age. (Hao Ya is the finest grade of this type of tea.)

Kung Fu Tea - Kung Fu is a Chinese phrase for anything that requires special skills. Mostly known as Kung Fu (cantonese for Gong Fu) martial arts, but can also apply to skillful tea preparation (kung fu style) or tea processing without breaking leaves.

Lapsang Souchong - Black Tea harvested in the Fujian Province of China. It had a smoky flavor, from drying leaves over pine fires.

Luk Yu - (or Lu Yu, depending on who's translating) The Tang dynasty writer and poet who wrote the Cha Jing (The Tea Classic) which summarized the entire tea industry at the time from cultivation to enjoyment.

Matcha - Literally, "Liquid Jade" in Japanese, this is a finely ground green tea used in Chanoyu.

Nilgiri - Black Tea harvested in Southern India

Oolong - Partially fermented tea. A cross between black and green tea. They are mainly produced in Taiwan and the Fuchien and Chianghsi provinces of China. Formosa Oolong (Oolong from Taiwan) is considered the best.

Pekoe - (pronounced Peck-o) from Pek Ho which is Cantonese for Bai Hau, meaning the bud of the tea plant after processing. Pekoe, and Orange Pekoe have come to mean the name of any whole leaf black tea that is flavored, and have nothing to do with the bud anymore.

Pu-Erh - Tea harvested in the Yunnan province of China, the leaves are large, and are used to make black, green and oolong teas. Valued more for its medicinal value than it's taste, it is often blended with chrysanthemum.

Red Tea - The same thing as Black Tea, called so in China, because of its reddish color when brewed.

White Tea - A rare tea found in China. These amber leaves are not fermented, and are comprised only of the tips of the tea plant. They stand up on end in the cup when served. Considered a delicacy. Pai Mu Tan is a type of white tea.

Yixing teapot - This unglazed pot comes from the purple clay in the Yixing region of China, and is touted for its flavor and ability to conserve heat. It is said if one uses this porous pot for many years, one can get a great pot of tea simply by adding water to an empty Yixing pot! (It remains the connoisseur's choice of material for making teapots.)

Yunnan - Black Tea harvested in the Yunnan Province of China, not to be confused with Pu-Erh. Yunnan Black is served complete with buds, to produce a golden color and flavor.

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