The following list are tea qualities every teaospher should know about. The liquid produced from the tea’s leaves is known as the liquor, not to be confused with distilled alcoholic beverages. When appreciating the liquor of tea, the teaosophers tell us to pay attention to the following things:

  • Aroma: An attractive smell sometimes referred to as “nose” or “bouquet.” High grown teas, such as Darjeeling, are prized for their distinctive aroma.
  • Astringency: The lively, pungent sensation on your tongue that gives tea its refreshing quality. This is not to be confused with bitterness.
  • Bakey: An unpleasant taste caused by using very high temperatures during drying (“firing”) the leaves and consequently driving out too much moisture.
  • Biscuity: A pleasant taste resembling fresh baked bread that can be found in some Assam teas.
  • Bitter: An unpleasant bitter taste.
  • Body: How the tea liquor feels in your mouth. A tea is described has having light, medium, or full body. Full-bodied teas have fullness and strength as opposed to being thin. A tea’s body will vary according to the region in which it was grown.
  • Brassy: An unpleasant, bitter metallic taste.
  • Bright: Liquor looks lively as opposed to dull. This quality becomes more apparent after the addition of milk.
  • Brisk: A vivacious, slightly astringent taste as opposed to flat or soft tasting liquor.
  • Character: Distinct qualities of the tea that allow the taster to detect the region where the tea was grown.
  • Color: Describes depth of color. The region when the tea was grown and the grade of tea play a part in the resulting shade and depth of the liquor color.
  • Coloury: A liquor that possesses depth of color, sometimes indicating full body or taste, but not necessarily so.
  • Course: An undesirable harsh, bitter taste.
  • Complex: A multidimensional aroma or taste profile.
  • Dry: A slightly bakey or scorched taste.
  • Dull: A liquor that lacks a lively, bright character in both appearance and taste.
  • Fine: Tea of exceptional taste and quality.
  • Flat: Lifeless liquor completely lacking in briskness. This can be the result of tea that is old or has been stored improperly.
  • Flavoury: Tea that has a pronounced, satisfying flavor. Pronounced flavour is more generally found in high grown teas such as Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Kerala, and Ceylon.
  • Full: Tea possessing color, strength and body as opposed to being empty or thin.
  • Hard: Tea that has penetrating and desirable strength, particularly used for Assam tea.
  • Harshness: An unpleasant degree of strength.
  • Heavy: Tea that possesses a thick, strong liquor with depth of color but is lacking in briskness.
  • Hungry: When the characteristics generally associated with the tea variety or region of origin are not present.
  • Light/Pale: Liquor that does not have depth of color but may be flavoury or pungent. Darjeeling tea is a good example of this.
  • Malty: A desirable malted barley taste often found in Assam tea.
  • Mellow: Tea leaves which have matured well produce a mellow tasting tea.
  • Muscatel: Grapey taste. This is an exceptional characteristic found in some Darjeeling tea.
  • Point(y): A desirable brightness and acidity often associated with Ceylon teas.
  • Pungent: A bright liquor that has pronounced briskness and a strong, astringent flavor. Highly desirable.
  • Rich: A pleasantly thick and mellow liquor.
  • Round: A full, smooth-tasting liquor.
  • Stale: Tea that has an unpleasant taste because it is old or has been stored in damp conditions.
  • Strong: Liquor possesses strength of body and flavor.
  • Thick: Tea that has good body as opposed to being “thin”. Assam tea is known for producing a thick liquor.
  • Thin: Tea that lacks body. This is not necessarily undesirable as certain tea growing regions, such as Darjeeling, are celebrated for their tea’s thin, flavoury liquors. However teas from Assam should never have a thin liquor.
  • Tired: Tea that is past its prime and consequently has a flat or stale character.
  • Woody: Tea that has a sawdust-like character.