Origin & Ingredients
Bordering Myanmar and China, where the mighty Brahmaputra River flows. This region produces teas that are full flavored, rich, and chewy with distinct characteristics of caramel and malt. Bright and coppery in the cup, Assam teas are the famous foundation of many breakfast blends. The best teas from this region are plucked and processed in June and July.
Some Common (and Uncommon) Tea Terms
Tea, like wine, has its own vocabulary. You may wish to practice using one of these terms each day, until you can blend them easily into the flow of your conversation.
Aroma – The fragrance of tea liquor and the infused leaf.
Astringency – Creates a feeling of dryness in the mouth.
Balance – All flavor elements in harmony.
Body – The weight of tea liquor as felt on the tongue.
Botanicals – Caffeine free herbal ingredients that include leaves, roots, barks, berries, grasses, seeds and peels.
Bright – Teas with sparkling color and crisp fresh flavor.
Biscuity – A pleasant, almost fresh-baked aroma present in some black teas.
BOP1 – Broken Orange Pekoe, Grade #1. Typically medium sized particles of leaf (“brokens”), which fall through the first screen in the grading process. In Ceylon, however, denotes a leaf size similar to that of an Assam OP.
Brew – Not really a tea term, but often used to describe the steeping process when making teas, as in “fresh-brewed tea.”
Brisk – The clean, assertive “bite” in black teas — a flavor in many high grown teas.
Character – The aroma and flavor qualities that are characteristic of a tea from a specific region
Chewy – Tea with a dense, viscous liquor and complex flavor.
Colory – A tea that exhibits great cup color. Not necessarily an indicator of quality.
Common – Tea with plain, thin liquor that has no distinctive qualities.
Cowbell – The security system at Smith. Also a general measure of oomph.
CTC – A grade of tea. Cut, Tear and Curl (CTC) is an alternative manufacturing style to the orthodox leaf styles, and yields a thick liquor and full body. Leaf is granular, with more surface exposed. Often used in chai blends.
Dandy – Sometimes used to describe the flavor of a Smith blend. Also, the well-dressed Earl Grey and his friend Lord Bergamot.
Delicate – Teas that have subtle flavor and aroma characteristics..
Dull – The flavor of an old or poorly manufactured tea
Dust – A tea grade (“D”) denoting that which falls through the final screen as very fine particles of dull, thick tasting tea. There is no “D” in Smith.
Fannings – Small leaf teas used for packing traditional teabags. Not used by Smith.
Fermentation – Also known as oxidation, this is the process of exposing fresh macerated tea leaves to oxygen which turns them from green to black tea.
Fez-worthy – A term of high praise. From the scarlet cap with black tassel sometimes worn by the head teamaker.
Flush – The period when tea bushes develop tender new shoots for harvest.
First Flush – The early-season harvest in many tea-growing regions, most notably Darjeeling.
Flat – Tea that lacks flavor and character.
Flavory – A tea that exhibits intense cup flavor. Not necessarily an indicator of quality.
FOP – Flowery Orange Pekoe. Full leaf tea with golden or green tip color.
FTGFOP1 – Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, Grade #1. See
Fussbudget – Often used to describe our head teamaker. See also cranky, obsessed.
Grade – Refers only to the size of the dried tea leaf
Intense – Tea that has unusually concentrated flavor and aroma. Also used to describe our Teamakers.
Liquor – Brewed tea is referred to as liquor in tea tasting. But, also used by our Teamakers for inspiration.
Invoice – An unblended lot of tea that possesses its own unique flavor and aroma characteristics.
Manufactured – The process that hand picked green leaf goes through to reach its finished state. The best teas are manufactured at the location where they are grown.
Metallic – Undesirable flavor quality found in some lower-quality black and green teas.
OP – Orange Pekoe. Not a type of tea. Refers to a large, almost whole leaf size. Has little to do with quality.
Orthodox – Tea processed in the traditional method, which is made from the top two leaves and bud of the tea plant and mechanically rolled resulting in a thin twisted leaf.
Origin – Where tea is grown and manufactured.
Oxidation – The process where macerated tea leaves exposed to oxygen begin to turn a dark red-amber color and develop complex flavor. See fermentation.
Plain – Characteristic of the liquor of a dull or thin tea.
Pluck – The handpicking of tea leaves.
Rolling – The process of macerating tea leaves which changes their shape and begins the enzymatic reaction that leads to flavor development.
Second Flush – The second leaf harvest period of the season. Second flush teas have fuller flavor, body, and color.
Strength – Describes teas that have a lot of flavor, color and aroma.
String-Tie – A mechanism by which Smith tea may be kept from thieves. There are more than 4,700 different ways to secure a Smith string-tie.
TGFOP1 – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, Grade #1. Full leaf, hand sorted tea with an abundance of tips, showing that the tea has been carefully plucked and sorted.
Thickness – Similar to body or strength.
Treehouse – A curious wooden structure high in the loft of the Teaworks. Also called the Clubhouse, Crow’s Nest, and Teamakers Retreat.
Varietal – An unblended tea from a particular origin.
Vegetative – Green teas often have qualities that are grassy or taste of green vegetables. Signifies freshness and quality.
Withering – The process of allowing tea leaves to naturally lose moisture and become soft and pliable for further manufacturing.
Zither – A stringed instrument beginning with Z, sometimes played by teamakers to add a little zing.
Click any number1 to learn its secret significance2 to Smith Teamaker.
2 When used in random order with certain other numbers, these lucky numerals will yield a Megamillions jackpot. Go for it.