Tea Terminology: Understanding Taste Profiles

Tea is a drink that can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways, from its aroma to its taste. However, describing tea can be challenging, especially if you are new to the tea-drinking world. In this article, we will be exploring different taste profiles and their associated terminologies to help you appreciate tea even more.


Umami is a Japanese term that means “pleasant savory taste”. It is commonly associated with foods like broths, cheese and oyster sauce. When it comes to tea, umami can be found in teas made from young tea leaves, such as Gyokuro. These leaves have a lower exposure to sunlight and higher levels of theanine, the amino acid responsible for umami taste.


Bitterness is a taste that is often associated with tea. While it can be unpleasant in large quantities, a small amount of bitterness can add depth and complexity to a tea. Black and oolong teas tend to have higher levels of tannin, the compound that contributes to bitterness. Oversteeping or using low-quality tea leaves can also result in a more bitter taste.


Earthy flavors are often associated with Pu-erh teas, which undergo a fermentation process that results in woody, rich flavors. These teas are characterized by a pungent aroma and a taste that is reminiscent of soil after rain.


Floral tastes have become increasingly popular in recent years, and are associated with sweet taste profiles and lingering fragrances. Flavored teas, such as rose-scented teas, are often described as floral. Lightly oxidized oolong varieties can also have subtle floral notes and sweetness in their finish.


Green teas are often described as “grassy” or “herbal” due to their refreshing and vegetal taste. As green teas are minimally processed, they retain most of their fresh grassy scent and taste.

By understanding these different taste profiles, you can better appreciate the subtle nuances of different teas. When drinking tea, take note of the different flavors and see how many different taste notes you can discern. With practice, you’ll become a tea connoisseur in no time!

Leave a Reply