When I first started learning about teas, I was told to approach them in the way that a connoisseur would approach wine. Much like wine, teas can offer an array of flavors to tantalize the taste buds and stimulate your imagination. Some are bold and forward, others are more complex, blending a variety of subtle notes. Similar to wine, there’s a wide range of tea varieties out there, with differences both obvious and obscure.
Knowing some good tea terms is a great way to make the wide world of “tea-talk” more inviting. Here’s a list of some of my favorites to use whenever you get the chance to taste a few teas. As a lover of words, I’m always looking for more. Leave your favorites in the comments!
Biscuity: a pleasant taste reminiscent of fresh bread
Brisk: lively, with high astringency and a memorable flavor
Earthy: darker, richer taste evocative of soil
Floral: a sweet, light taste reminiscent of fresh flowers
Fruity: any flavor suggesting fruit, such as apples, grapes, or citrus
Malty: a sweet flavor, like malted barley
Nutty: reminiscent of nuts, like almonds or hazelnut
Savory: a rich, full-bodied flavor with minimal sweetness
Smokey: suggestive of smoke or wood ash
Sweet: a natural characteristic of certain teas
Vegetal: a fresh taste characteristic of green teas, ranging from grassy to herbal to almost like seaweed
Woody: redolent aromas of forests and cut wood