Tea Lexicon


Tea is the processed leaves, leaf buds, and stems of the Camilla sinensis plant, and the beverage produced from its infusion.


Assam is a full-bodied black tea that is named after the northeastern region of India where it is produced. Assam teas (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) are grown mostly at sea level and are appreciated for their rich, malty flavor and brisk, bold character. Assams are usually used as a base for breakfast teas as they stand up well to the addition of milk and sugar.

Black Tea

Known in China as red tea, black tea is mostly consumed by the international tea market. It is produced in large scale in India, Sri Lanka and Kenya. The tea leaves are first withered to reduce moisture content, rolled to bruise the leaf to allow for fermentation and oxidation. Then the leaves are fired to dry and halt further enzymatic activity.


To prepare by infusion in hot water


A beverage originating in the Indian subcontinent, the word chai in translation means tea. Chai is made by mixing water, milk, sugar or other sweetener with a strong black tea and spices.


Called the “champagne of tea” Darjeeling is produced in the hilly district of Darjeeling in West Bengal, India, using the Camellia sinensis var. sinensis or china bush. Considered by connoisseurs as the finest black tea, Darjeeling teas are noted for their unique muscatel flavor. Darjeeling teas are harvested four times a year: first flush, second flush, autumnal and monsoon flush. Each flush or harvest yields its own distinct character and flavor profile.


To extract the essence or flavor by boiling

Flavored Tea

Dried fruit, flowers, herbs, oils, etc. are added to a tea base for flavoring. An example would be Earl Grey.

Flowering Tea

Also known as treasure or display teas. Artisans hand-sew tea leaves and flowers into a bulb that once steeped in hot water will open up to a beautiful and colorful display. Best brewed in a tempered glass container to watch the tea bulb blossom.

Gaiwan (guywan)

A popular tea ware in China, the gaiwan was invented during the Ming Dynasty and serves as a vessel for both steeping and/or drinking tea. Simply put, a gaiwan is a lidded cup and consists of a saucer, the cup, and a lid.

Gong fu tea

Most commonly used in China and Taiwan, the term “gong fu” means disciplined skill or mastery. In the sense of gong fu tea or gong fu cha, this refers to the mastery and skill of tea preparation in Chinese tea culture. Distinguishing features of gong fu cha includes a large tea to water ratio (where tea is brewed in little pots), tea is brewed in short and multiple infusions, tea is served in small tasting cups.

Herbal / Fruit Infusion

Also known as tisane, herbals or fruit infusions are made of dried fruits, fresh or dried herbs and flowers, seeds, roots, bark, etc. They do not contain tea (Camellia sinensis) and are generally caffeine-free. Examples include chamomile, rooibos, hibiscus.


To steep in liquid to extract a soluble substance


Tea accessory (most commonly a ball or basket) used to place tea leaves in for brewing. The purpose of using an infuser is to easily remove the tea leaves from your cup or teapot once the tea has properly steeped.

Oolong Tea

Oolong teas are semi-fermented / semi-oxidized teas that fall between green and black teas. Another labor-intensive tea to produce, oolongs offer a wide range of flavors and colors and the finished leaf is either curled, twisted or pellet shaped. The colors range from green to amber, and the best oolongs are those which are hand-made in small batches. If using a ball infuser, we suggest using a larger one to accommodate the expansion of the leaf. Quality oolongs can be steeped multiple times with each infusion releasing another nuance to its flavor.

Puer Tea

Renown for its health benefits, true puer comes from the Yunnan Province in China. Puer is manufactured in such a way that allows for many years of natural aging. The two types of puer are sheng cha (raw or green) and shou cha (cooked or ripe). The difference being that sheng cha is stored and allowed to naturally age taking about 30 years or more to reach maturity. The result is an amazing tea that is dark, rich, robust and earthy. Shou cha, on the other hand, entails a method that speeds up the aging process to create fermented puer in as little as 60 days. Puer is available in loose form, but is generally compressed into cakes, tea bricks and other shapes.


Needle-like herb indigenous only to South Africa. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, blends well with other ingredients, and will not become bitter if left to oversteep. Rooibos is also known as red bush or red tea.

Scented Tea

Produced for centuries, scented teas take a base tea (white, green, black) and infuse it with the scent of natural flowers until its fragrance is absorbed by the finished tea. Usually the petals are removed and the process is repeated until the desired fragrance is achieved. Truly scented teas are all natural and do not add artificial additives or oils to enhance the aroma and flavor of the tea.


To immerse in a liquid under boiling temperature


A strainer is used to catch the tea leaves. If you steep loose tea leaves in your teapot, simply rest the strainer on your cup and pour your tea. The strainer will catch any loose leaves.

Tea Cozy / Tea Cosy

An insulated outer cover for a tea pot that is used to keep the tea warm while it brews. Tea cozies come in different shapes, designs, and themes.

Tea Kettle

A vessel used to heat or boil water.


A vessel used to steep and serve tea; it is not for boiling water.


A French term originally applied to wine, terroir has to do with different factors and the environment that contribute to a specific wine’s unique personality. The term has been redefined to include other food products such as tea, chocolate, cheese, and coffee. In the case of tea, terroir refers to the climate, soil, weather conditions and even the regional traditions and customs of the artisans making the tea.


Japanese cast iron pot used for boiling water. Modern day tetsubins are available with an enamel interior to prevent rusting and a removable mesh strainer to brew tea.

White Tea

The least processed of teas. After careful plucking the leaves are withered and laid out to dry. White tea is delicate and fluffy and requires more room to steep. The infusion is a pale champagne or light straw color.

Yellow Tea

A rare type of tea that falls between white and green teas. Yellow tea unfortunately does not enjoy the broad market as the other teas and some argue it is becoming a lost art in China. The manufacture of this tea is quite difficult and time consuming requiring the leaves to be wrapped in cloth or paper and stored in a container to allow oxidation. After approximately 2 days, the leaves are unwrapped and allowed to air out. The process is repeated and the tea is roasted to its final state. As with all other teas, the sequence and processing stages vary according to region. The objective of yellow tea is to remove the grassiness of green teas while retaining its health benefits. The flavor is wonderfully warm and mellow.