Tea Terminology & Glossary


It’s important to note that when “tasting a tea” the terminology people use is about recognition and not really tasting chocolate in everything. So when someone says they taste honeyed notes or hints of stone fruits what they’re indicating is that something about that tea reminds them of honey or stone fruits, not that actual peaches are or are not used in a given tea.


This terminology page is a simple list of common terms and their meanings.

Steep: a steep is a single infusion of leaves and additives in water for the purpose of drinking.

Infuse: Infusion is the process of leaves and additives impacting the flavor, color and aroma of the water.

Blend: Blends aren’t necessarily only herbals/tisanes. In fact a great deal of blends are simple different teas mixed together. Most breakfast teas are blends for example.

Pure: Pure teas are teas which haven’t been blended with other teas, flavored or mixed with additives.

White: White teas are the youngest usable leaves from the camellia sinensis plant, or tea tree. Often highly caffeinated but very subtle in and complex when brewed.

Green: Green teas are theist processed leaves from the camellia sinensis plant. Lower in caffeine, but slightly higher in health benefiting polyphenols and catechins.

Yellow: Yellow teas are very rare. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that the process of making yellow teas was rediscovered. Most yellow teas are in a sweet spot of 10-15% oxidation.

Oolong: Oolong teas provide the widest variety of flavor, aroma and mouthfeel characteristics of any type of tea from the camellia sinensis plant.

Black: Black teas remain the most common teas in the west and generally thought to produce a more assertive brew. But many black teas can be just as subtle as Oolongs and White teas when brewed properly.

Pu’erh: Aged tea has been growing more popular in the west over the past decade or so. The leaves are most often pressed in to “cakes” and aged similar to a wine or fine liquor. These camellia sinensis leaves produce an earthy brew.

Brew: Brewing is the process of producing a cup or pot of tea.