烘焙 hōngbèi

This is the step when the enzymes causing the oxidation decompose.

Roasting is a kind of heat-treatment, used when making oolong tea. Similar to baking, the main goal of this process is to stop the oxidation of the tea. In addition it also changes both the tea's scent and flavour: from mild, nutty notes to sharp, smokiness an incrdeibly wide range of tastes can be achieved.

Big leaf

大叶 dàyè

Da ye (大叶) is the Chinese term for the tea cultivar called, Camelia sinensis assamica.

The leaves of this variety usually are larger than those of a Camelia sinensis sinensis -- hence the name. Quality puers are always produced from these large, unbroken leaves for they have richer taste, deeper body and stronger chaqi (茶气, tea energy).


苦味 kǔwèi

There are two types of sourness: one, when the sourness is a part of the whole taste of the tea; the other when it appears as a separate note, and represses the tea's character: it usually refers to low quality commodity or wrong process/storage.

Being a basic taste, everyone is familiar with sourness. However, when talking about tea, we differenciate between good and bad sourness. Good sourness is not disturbing: it is a part of the tea's taste and later, fading away, it turns into mellow sweetness (returning sweetness). On the other hand, bad sourness is never appreciated. It is unpleasant, caustig and not fading away: penetrates the whole tea. This usually suggests bad preparation, or wrong storage.


茶筅 chá xiǎn

Chasen, or tea whisk, is an essential matcha utensil, used for beating the tea into a light-some, jade-coloured foam.

There are numerous types of chasens with many small differences in material (eg. black or white bamboo), preparation, shapes and usage, however, there is one universal law that applies to all chasens: they are always made of a single piece of bamboo. While the chasens that are used for making koi-cha usually have 80 thick bristles, the ones used when making usu-cha tend to have 100 or 120 thinner bristles.


茶碗 cháwǎn

Chawan is mid-sized ceramic tea bowl in which matcha is traditionally prepared.

Like all the different tea accessories, chawans, too, have numerous shapes, materials and fashions that are determined by school, season and occasion. The two big categories are summer and winter bowls. The first type is usually an open, V-shaped bowl, in which the tea can be displayed on a bigger surface. The latter one in turn, having a ball-like shape, is much more closed, hence the tea is significantly less quick to cool.


单枞 dāncōng

Generic term for dancongs from the Phoenix mountain (Fenghuang). Originally it refered to that were tea plucked from one single plant.

The term dancong originally refered to teas that were plucked from a single bush and were not mixed with any other leaves. Nowadays it is used as a generic term for dancongs from the Phoenix mountain (Fenghuang, 凤凰山).

Dark tea

黑茶 heichá

Postfermented tea with dark, earthy, beetroot-like notes. Its infusion soothes the digestion.

Dark tea (or as it is called in China, black tea), is, similar to shu puer, a postfermented tea. Having prepared the maocha the tea, collected in covered wicker baskets, undergoes an anaerob ripening process; this gives the tea its dark colour and a unique beetroot-, and soil-like flavour. The process is identical to the one used while making shu puer. However, there's a slight difference between the two: while the shu puer's fermentation is a several-month-long process, in the dark tea's case it's a way shorter period of time. Dark tea is noted for its good digestion-soothing effect. The two main areas where dark tea is cultivated: China's Guangxi (Liu Bao, 廣西六堡) and Anhui (Liu An, 安徽六安) provinces.

First flush

明前 míngqián

High quality tea, harvested in early spring before Qingming. While in theory it may be used for all kinds of teas, most of the times it refers to fresh green teas.

Early springtime teas are often called first flush teas. The term traditionally refers to those teas that are plucked before Qingming, therefore they are also called ‘mingqian’ (明前, before Qingming). Teas that are harvested right after Qingming (5th of April) are called ‘guyu’ (谷雨, grain rain) which is the next Chinese solar term (20th of April). And there is a third period, starting with the 5th of May, called ‘lixia’ (立夏, start of summer). The later the harvest is, the simpler and cheaper teas becomes—a mingqian tea can worth up to 100 times more than the one harvested in mid-June.


蓋碗 gàiwǎn

Frequently used teaware that has three parts: saucer, cup and lid.

Gaiwan is a popular teaware in China, ever since the 14th century; its function is equivalent to the teapot. A gaiwan has three parts: saucer, cup and lid: hence the name gaiwan: 盖子 (gàizi, lid) 碗子 (wǎnzi, cup, or bowl). Its greatest advantage is that altering the gap between the cup and the lid, one can very effectively control the pouring speed. Gaiwans are usually made from (yixing) clay, porcelain, or glass.

Green tea

绿茶 luchá

Fresh, vitalizing, unoxidized green leaves. Green tea is notable for its wide diversity of flavours: it varies from smooth, nutty notes to sour, even umami-like impressions.

Grean tea, too, is a kind of unoxidized tea. The major difference between green and white tea is that green tea is either baked (China) or steamed (Japan) after wiltering/withering. During this process the heat breaks down the enzymes (polyphenol-oxidase) found in the leaves thus stopping oxidization. Then, at certain tea types (e.g. Long Jing, 龙井), the leaves are rolled into different shapes. Finally, the leaves are dried and selected based on their quality (A, B, C). China's most famous green tea producing areas are Zhejiang (e.g. Longjing, 龙井), Jiangsu (e.g.Bi Luo Chun 洞庭碧螺春) and Fujian, Anhui (e.g. Mao Feng, 毛峰) provinces.


古树 gǔshù

Quality puers are plucked from gushu, the word means old trees. It contributes to more complex taste and stronger chaqi.

Gushu, or sometimes laoshu (老树) means old tree. The term is mostly used when talking about puers, and refers to those teas which were plucked from trees older than 300 years. Teas coming from old trees usually have deeper, and more complex flavour than the ones coming from plantations, and when it comes to ageing (ageing link), gushu puers age better. And the most important difference: the chaqi. It is not necessarily true, but in most cases gushu teas have better and stronger energy.


玉露 gyokuro

Exclusive shaded (for three weeks) Japanese green tea.

Gyokuro (meaning jade dew) is the . As a shade-grown Japanese green tea, it is prepared with the unique ooshita method, during which it stays covered from the sun for three weeks before plucking. Gyokuro is famous for two special features: it is plucked from smaller subspieces of the Camelia sinensis (Asahi, Okumidori, Yamakai, és Saemidori), and it is prepared with unusually low water temperature: 50 C.

Hong Yu

紅玉 Hong Yu

Hong Yu, or Red Jade, is a premium Taiwanese black tea cultivar, often referred to as the ‘Fragrance of Taiwan’.

Hong Yu’s name, which translates to red jade, sometimes called ruby red, refers to it being one of the most highly regarded black tea cultivars in Taiwan. It is a special Taiwanese hybrid, which was created in 1999 as a cross between the indigenous wild Formosensis cultivar and a Burmese Assamica variety. Both of these ancestors’ heritage are apparent in the tea: the assamica’s classic notes of dark chocolate and roasted nuts are well blended with the fruity, slightly astringent profile of a wild tea cultivar, topped with a fascinating vegetal greenness and the vivid fragrance of springtime lilies. As a Taiwanese hybrid, it also bears the tag TRES#18, often used by tea farmers, which is its catalogue name assigned by the Taiwanese Tea Research and Extension Station. Hong Yu is also special for its growing area: it is almost exclusively cultivated in Nantou county, around the Sun Moon Lake (日月潭, ri yue tan), a relatively small area, famous for its unique micro-climate which gives the teas a surprising density and vibrant fragrance.


黄片 huángpiàn

A type of puer tea, made from older, and larger leaves which have alredy started yellowing.

Huangpian is a type of puer tea, and literary means: yellow leaf. These teas are made from older leaves that have already started to yellowing, hence its name. Huangpians have usually simpler, and more balanced character and are less sensitive to water temperature, however, their chaqi tends to be less significant.

Jin Xuan

金萱 Jin Xuan

Jin Xuan is a relatively new, yet incredibly widespread Taiwanese cultivar. It has rich buttery aromas and a mellow mouthfeel—hence its nickname ‘Milky Oolong’ (奶香, nai xiang).

Jin Xuan translates to golden lily, which refers to the bright yellow hue of its fresh, tender leaves. It is a Taiwanese cultivar, which was created in the early 1980’s as a cross between Ying Zhi Hong Xin (硬枝红心, hard stem red heart), a famous cultivar traditionally used for Tie Guan Yins, and the TRES#8, an assamica varietal from Jaipur, India. It is the 12th cultivar catalogued by the Taiwanese Tea Research and Extension Station, hence its tag TRES#12, which is often used by tea farmers. By contrast, the name ‘Milky Oolong’ is more popular amongst international distributers. The aim behind this particular cross was to create an alternative cultivar to Qing Xin (青心, green heart), another prevalent oolong cultivar, with a higher yield and stronger resistance to pests. Thanks to its distinct flavour profile, the Jin Xuan quickly became one of the most important oolong cultivars in Taiwan. Although, it is primarily used for oolongs, they are also suitable for green and lighter black teas.


冠茶 kabusecha

A type of shaded (for one week) Japanese green tea.

Kabusecha, similar to gyokuro, is a shade-grown Japanese green tea, with the small difference that this one is only shaded for a week. As a result of this method, the tea has a deeper and more mellow taste than sencha, yet it is not as intensive as a gyokuro.

Killing green

杀青 shāqīng

The first step of making white and green tea: the enzymes, cause of the oxidation, get decomposed.

This is the step, when the oxidation causing enzymes decompose which is achieved by a minor baking. When making white, green, or puer tea, it is done right after the wilting process in order to prevent any level of oxidation. As for the rest of the teas the baking comes when the desired oxidation level is reached.


濃茶 koicha

Koi-cha, or thick matcha is a type of ceremonial matcha usually prepared with approx. 1:10-20 tea-water ratio.

Koi-cha is the apex of chado and as such, the essence of Japanese tea culture. Accompanied by different types of sweets, a chawan of koi-cha is usually shared by three or four people.


毛茶 máochá

The loose-leaf-like state of puer teas prior to being pressed into cakes.

Maocha, or raw tea, is a puer-related phase that describes the state preceding postfermentation. Similar to green tea, its preparation takes up three steps: wilting, baking (to prevent the tea from oxidation), and drying.


抹茶 māchá

A high-quality Japanese green tea, stone-ground into a fine, jade-coloured powder. It is considered to be the apex of Japanese chado.

During the Song dynasty (960-1279) drinking powdered tea enjoyed great popularity. When the well-known Eisai priest returned to Japan, along with Zen Buddhism, he introduced this powder-style tea to the island. Since then it evolved into what we know today as matcha. On the tea market there are two categories of matchas: culinary and ceremonial. In ceremonial matcha there are two sub-categories, usu-cha (薄茶) and koi-cha (濃茶). In tea ceremonies matcha is prepared in both styles. Usu-cha serves as an “aperitif” so as to enhance the importance of Koi-cha. While the first one is usually served one chawan per person, the latter, being a highly appreciated beverage, is shared by three or four people. 


水出し mizu-dashi

A Japanese brewing method, meaning cold-brew.

Mizudashi, or cold brew is an alternative brewing method, when the leaves are infused with cold (about 4-5 C) water instead of the habitual 80-100 C. Along with the water temperature the brewing time too changes: an average cold brew infusion lasts about 4-5 hours. An interesting effect of this low temperature is that the materials dissolving from the water are different from the ones in hot water. Instead of caffeine, a cold brew is rich in vitamins: the result is a whole new world in flavour and fragrance.

Oolong tea

乌龙 wūlóng

Semi-oxidized tea: the leaves' colour varies from light-green to dark brown. Oolongs are considered as effective antioxidants.

Oolongs are partially oxidized teas. Following the wiltering process the leaves are rolled so that in the 'damaged' leaves the clorophyll starts to oxidize. When the tea reached the desired oxidation level the leaves are dried. Like this, the remaining enzymes decompose and the oxidation process ends. Depending on the level of oxidation the leaves' colour varies from light turquoise to dark brown -- hence the name wulong (烏龍), meaning black dragon. Finally, the leaves are selected into three different quality categories (A, B, C). Oolongs originate from the Wuyi mountains (武夷山), located in Fujian province, China.


覆下栽培 ooshita

A special Japanese tea process, when the plants are grown in shade before harvest.

Ooshita is a unique Japanese tea-growing technique, durng which, preceding harvest, the plants are grown in shade for a certain period of time. In the absence of sunlight the leaves grow slower, and remain more soft and juicy. Due to the shade, large amounts of amino acids concentrated in the leaves thus changing both its flavour and effect on the body.

Puer tea

普洱茶 puerchá

One of the oldest type of tea which originates from Pu'er, a small town in Yunnan, China. There are two types of puer tea: sheng, that is 'living' puer, and shu, or 'dark' puer. Quality puers are plucked from old trees.

Puer tea is one of the most ecxiting type of postfermented teas. There are two types of puers: the sheng, or living puer (生茶, shēng chá) and shu, or dark puer (熟茶, shú chá). After plucking, the sheng puer is first processed as if making green tea (maocha link), then pressed into certain shapes (tea cake link); from this point on, until its consuption the tea undergo a slow, aerob oxidation (ageing link) process. The original purpose of making shu puer was to create a tea similar to a sheng puer that was aged for several decades, thus saving both effort and time. The technology used in this process is an improved 'version' of the one used while making dark tea (dark tea link). Quality puer teas are usually plucked from old trees (gushu link). The famous areas of puer cultivation: Mengsong (勐宋), Pasha (帕沙), Jingmai (景迈), Nánnuò (南糯), Bada (巴达), Hekai (贺开), Bulangshan(布朗山), Mannuo(曼糯), Mengsong(勐宋), Yiwu (易武山), Yōulè (攸樂山)

Qing Xin - Chin Shin

青心 Qing Xin - Chin Shin

Qing Xin is a widely used oolong cultivar both in China and Taiwan, famous for its sweet, flowery flavours.

Qing Xin translates to green heart, hinting on its kind, fresh nature, which is accompanied by a vivid, orchid-like fragrance. The cultivar originates from China’s Fujian province and was introduced to Taiwan in the late 19th century. It is also called ‘Ruan Zhi’ (軟枝, soft stem) for its juicy leaves, which make it the perfect candidate for the production of such premium teas as the high-mountain oolongs of Dong Ding and Lishan, the twist-shaped Baozhongs, or fragrant Oriental Beauties. Qing Xin is a delicate and rather fragile plant. Due to its tender leaves and slow-growing nature it needs much more care and yields tend to be lower. This entails a rising competition coming from more resistant and higher-yielding cultivars, such as the Taiwanese Jin Xuan. Nonetheless, the Qing Xin continues to be one of the most widely used oolong varietals both in China and Taiwan and is preferred to its competitors by many for its refined nature. The queen of the high mountains of Taiwan.

Red tea

紅茶 hóngchá

The original Chinese name of black tea. Fully-oxidized tea, with high caffeine content.

Red tea, or as it is called in Europe black tea is a fully oxidized tea. It's preparing process is very similar to the one that is used when making dark oolongs. There is one difference between the two: in this case, the oxidation process stops naturally. While the dry leaves look almost exactly the same, a significant difference between the two teas can be noticed on the infused leaves: while oolongs slowly turn to green, black teas stay dark brown. There are two major tea producing areas in China: Fujian province (e.g. Lapsang souchong, 立山小种) and Yunnan province (e.g. Dian Hong, 滇红).

Returning sweetness

回甘 huígān

The progress when a tea's basic taste turns into long-lasting aftertaste. It's usually a sweet savour, hence the name, returning sweetness.

Returning sweetness is a special quality of the tea, and usually indicates good preparation and storage. After the tea's primal taste fades away, a whole new kind of flavour, the aftertaste appears: as its name implies, in most cases it is some kind of sweetness. This progress is the most significant, when drinking slightly sour, or smoky teas.

Rock tea

岩茶 yánchá

Rock teas are multi-roasted oolongs coming from the Wuyi Mountain's volcanic cliffs. Similarly to wines, terroir is one of the most important factors shaping a tea's character—the presence of these rocks results in a robust, fiery character.

The tea plants of the Wuyi Mountains are rooted only in a thin layer of soil and therefore have direct access to the mineral-rich volcanic cliffs. Thus the tea made of it has am incredibly complex taste, texture and stronger body. Receding from the ‘central rock area’ (正岩, zheng yan) towards the ‘half rock area’ (半岩, ban yan) the soil, covering the volcanic cliffs, becomes thicker. Although this is still the Wuyi Scenic Region, the plants grown there can only absorb a tiny fraction of minerals compared to those living in the central area. The third category of wuyi teas is called ‘river bank tea’ (洲茶, zhou cha). This area is well outside of the protected Wuyi Scenic Region and the plants here have almost no access to volcanic rocks. Therefore ‘zhou cha’ teas lack the essence of wuyi teas and only share the name of the region.


揉捻 róuniǎn

Key step of making oolong or black tea: after the wilting process the leaves are rolled thus cracking the veins. The saps when accessing air start to oxidize.

The rolling process is an important part of the tea-making procedure, and has two distinct goals: when making oxidized tea (oolong, black, or dark tea), this step precedes the oxidation. When the leaves are rolled, the saps leak out from the cracked veins, and, accessing air, they start to oxidize. As for the unoxidized teas (white, green and puer) the rolling's aim is only to give a certain shape to leaves. In this case, it comes after "killing-green", thus foreclosing the chance of oxidation.


煎茶 sencha

Traditional Japanese steamed green tea.

Sencha is a generic term for Japanese green tea, plucked from the teaplant's subspieces, called Camelia sinensis Yabukita. Sencha, in contrast with Chinese green tea, is always stemad instead of baking. Sencha has two special, harvest-related subtypes: sincha (新茶, first, early harvest) and bancha (番茶, second harvest). Besides, there is also gyokuro (玉露) and kabusecha (冠茶), which are diferrent both in preparation (ooshita process) and commodity (Asahi, Okumidori, Yamakai, és Saemidori subspieces) from sencha.

Single bush

单株 dān zhū

Generic term for teas that are plucked from one single plant.

The key difference between danzhu and dancong is that while the latter one is exclusively reserved for Fenghuang oolongs, the previous can be used for all kinds of teas.


The most significant difference between Oriental and British tea culture is the way of infusing the leaves.

In contrast with the several-mintues-long British-style infusions, in Asia the leaves are infused only for a few seconds, and can be reinfused as many as 15-20 times. A proper infusion requires four parameters: the amount of tea you put in the teapot or gaiwan (~5-6 gramms), the teapot's capacity (80-300 ml), the water temperature (50-100 C), and the duration of the infusion (2-90 sec).


湿仓/干仓 shīcāng/gāncāng

One of the key aspects to consider when ageing puer tea: the manner of storage. Wet storage quickens the ageing process, but also raises the risk of failure. Dry stored teas tend to more valuable.

Moisture is one of the most important parameter of storage. When the humidity is relatively high the tea will age faster, however the risk of ruining the tea also raisis: this is the wet storage, or shīcāng (湿仓). Although the other option, the dry storage, or gāncāng (干仓) is a safer way of ageing, it takes up more time.


晒干 shàigān

The sun-dried teas usually have an extra bouquet besides their primary notes and can be stored for a longer period of time.

Drying is the finishing step in the production of non-postfermented teas. Certain types of teas, spred on large nets, are dried under the sun: this gives a extra freshness, and strength to the tea. Sun-dried teas tend to be rich in fragrance and flavour, and can be stored for a longer period of time. However, being extremely weather dependent, this process is in slow decline.

Tall tree

乔木 qiáomù

Literally meaning tall, or high tree, qiaomu is often used in the classification of puer teas.

Puer teas are classified by numerous different factors, such as place of origin (eg.: Nannuoshan, Menhgai county, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province), vintage, terroir, the trees' age and occasionally by their size as well. Sometimes the term is used as an equivalent of zhongshu (中树, middle-aged tree), albeit the latter one is more closely connected to the term gushu (古树, ancient tree).

Tea cake

餅茶 bǐngchá

Puer teas are traditionally pressed into so-called cakes. There are both practical (it takes up less space) and functional (it ages slower) reasons for this tradition.

Tea cake is a strictly puer-related phenomenon. In ancient times, in order to simplfy storage and shipping, the tea leaves were pressed into certain shapes (cake: 餅茶, bǐngchá; brick: 砖茶, zhuān chá). The compressed tea takes up less space, and, since only a smaller surface has contact with the air, ages more slowly. Then the cakes, in groups of five or seven, were wrapped in leaves, thus forming the so-called tongs (筒, tŏng). There were times when tea was even used as an alternative to money.

Tea ceremony

茶道 chádào

A general term for the different regulated means of preparing tea. It has a myriad different styles and fashions depending both on tea type and region.

Chadao (sometimes chazhidao, 茶之道) literally meaning "The Way of Tea" is a mixed-origin term, derived from tea-related Buddhist and Daoist practices that emphasised the beneficial effects of regular (and ritual) tea consumption. The term, being somewhat obscure, gives room for a rather flexible usage. In Japan there are ancient schools (eg. Urasenke) with accurately transcribed instructions. China has the famous and gongfu (功夫) method with only a few key principles to guide the apprentices and the new-wave Taiwanese gandao (亁倒) having simplicity as its single core-idea.

Tea energy

茶气 chá qì

Chaqi, literally tea energy, is a term used to describe a broad spectrum of both the mental and physical effects of tea consumption.

When drinking tea from old trees, beside flavour and fragrance we can observe the tea from a third, less-known aspect: how does our body react, how are we influenced by the tea. These so-called effects vary in a wide range from calming warmness through uplifting, even joyful mood, untill a vitalizing flow going all through the body—all this together is called chaqi, that is tea energy.


薄茶 usucha

Usu-cha, or thin matcha is a type of ceremonial matcha usually prepared with 1:40 tea-water ratio.

In the course of a proper chado usu-cha serves as an “aperitif” so as to emphasis the importance of koi-cha. Usu-cha is served one chawan per person.

Wet piling

渥堆 wòduī

A process used while making dark tea or shu puer. The leaves are stored in covered wicker baskets in warm, dump environment, thus giving the tea its unique, cellar-, or soil-like fragrance.

Wet piling is a process used when making dark tea or shu puer. The pre-processed leaves (maocha) are collected in covered wicker baskets or piles and kept in wet, airless conditions for a certain period of time that depends on the type of the that is being processed: while an average dark tea is only ripened for a few weeks, in the shu puer's case it can last as long as several months.

White tea

白茶 báichá

Tender, unoxidized buds and leaves showing ethereal freshness.

White tea is basically a type of tea which does not undergo any kind of oxidizing process. After a short period of withering the freshly plucked leaves are dried either under sunlight or in special woks on low temperature. Save for a selection of leaves, no further process is done to the leaves. White tea is tradicionally cultivated along the coast of East China Sea. There are three branches of white teas based on the size and type of the leaves: Bai Mudan 白牡丹, Shoumei 寿眉, Yinzhen 银针


中樹 zhōngshù

Generic term for trees between 100-300 years old.

Zhongshu literarry means medium-term, or moderately-old tree. Similar to gushu (古树) it is an age-related distinction that is mainly used for puer teas. Zhong shu trees are between 100 and 300 years old.