Artisan Tea:101

If you are new to artisan tea, or are confused by terms or phrases you see in use on this blog or others like it then look to this page as a sort of dictionary/encyclopedia.  I will periodically update this as I come up with more information to add to it.

A short guide to types of tea-

Black Tea- Fully oxidized leaves, made all over the world.  Most of the tea consumed in the West is this type of tea.  In China this is referred to as hong cha or red tea.

Green Tea- Leaves that have not been oxidized at all.  These are either pan fired or steamed (almost all steamed green teas are Japanese).  This is the most commonly consumed tea in southeast Asia.

Oolong Tea- Leaves that are partially-oxidized.  There are many different methods of processing that result in very different oolongs.  These are very popular in China and Taiwan.  Some of them can be aged.

Pu'erh Tea- This tea really should be looked at as two different teas, shu pu'erh and sheng pu'erh.  Both are teas that undergo fermentation and are usually pressed into a beeng cha (or tea cake) or some other shape.  This tea is aged and changes flavor like a fine wine.  In China pu'erh is what they call black tea.

White Tea- This tea undergoes little processing and is typically only harvested once a year.  It accounts for a very very small part of the world's annual tea production.  It is almost exclusively made in Fujian, China, but there are a couple types made in other places.

Yellow Tea- A relatively small group of teas produced in China that are similar to white and green teas.


Astringent/astringency- A dry or mouthpuckering feeling in the mouth caused by tannins in a food.  Found in some fruits, wines, and teas. 
Bud- The brand new leaf growth from a plant.
Gaiwan- A lidded cup/bowl that tea is steeped in.  Sometimes the tea isn't poured from it and instead the drinker sips directly from the cup, using the lid to hold back the leaves.
Gongfu cha/gongfu- A Chinese method of making tea involving very small amounts of water (relative to western styles) and multiple (usually short) infusions.
Infusion- An individual steeping or "brewing" of tea.
Liquor- The liquid resulting from steeping tea.
Tippy/tippiness- Referring to teas with a large amount of leaf buds in them.
Yixing- A location in China and also a clay (there are numerous types) that is mined around this area.  This clay is used to make what many consider the finest teaware for brewing (most) Chinese teas.  Yixing teaware is almost always unglazed.

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