The Language of 'Tea'

Tea, cha, chai, thé….there are literally thousands of different teas, grown in over fifty countries drunk in various ways from iced to spiced throughout the world.  It’s no wonder the tea world can seem daunting.  Sit back with a cup of Tea by Birdy and let us introduce you to tea and tell you all you need know about this amazing drink.
Tea is a beverage enjoyed by millions of people around the world. It's a cultural staple in many countries and is often associated with relaxation, hospitality, and comfort. However, tea is not just a drink, but it also has its own language. In this blog post, we will explore the language of tea and its unique terminology.
Black teapot and teacup making a cup of tea

What is the difference between tea and herbal infusions or tisanes?

Sometimes the word ‘tea’ is wrongly used to refer to infusions made from any plant (such as mint or chamomile, rooibos, lemongrass) but don’t be confused by this.  ‘Tea’ is the brew we make from the leaves and leaf buds of the tea plant Camellia sinensis var. sinensis or the Chinese Camellia. Infusions made from other plants are called ‘herbal infusions, ‘infusions’ or ‘tisanes'.
E.g. Japanese Sencha is a tea - green tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant.
Lemongrass Twist is not a tea but a herbal infusion.  It contains lemongrass and therefore does not come from the Camellia sinensis plant.
a hand stirring a pot of hot tea


Types of Tea

Tea comes in many different types, each with its own unique flavour and brewing methods. Some of the most popular teas include black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and white tea. Each type of tea has a distinct flavour profile, and the language used to describe them can be quite different.

Tea Accessories

There are also many different accessories used in the preparation and consumption of tea. These include tea cups, teapots, strainers, and infusers. The language used to describe these accessories can be just as unique as the language used to describe the tea itself.

The language of 'tea'

Some common tea terms that you may encounter include:

  1. Steeping: The process of steeping tea involves soaking the tea leaves in hot water. The length of time that the tea is steeped can have a significant impact on the flavour of the tea.  Steeping tea too long will make it bitter and care should be taken to ensure the tea is steeped for the recommended time.
  2. Infusion: An infusion is the liquid that results from steeping the tea leaves in hot water. The infusion is what you actually drink when you enjoy a cup of tea.
  3. Tisane: A tisane is a beverage made from steeping herbs, spices, or other plant materials in hot water. While not technically a tea, tisanes are often referred to as "herbal teas."
  4. Terroir: Terroir refers to the environmental factors that influence the flavour of tea leaves, including the soil, climate, and altitude where the tea is grown.
  5. Astringency: Astringency is the dry, puckering sensation that you may feel in your mouth when drinking tea. Astringency is caused by the presence of tannins in the tea leaves.  Over brewing tea and squeezing teabags can lead to a high astringency.
  6. Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel refers to the sensation of the tea in your mouth, including its texture, body, and viscosity. 

The language of tea is just as rich and diverse as the drink itself. Whether you're a tea enthusiast or just enjoy a cup every now and then, understanding the unique terminology used in the world of tea can help you appreciate and enjoy this beloved beverage even more.

If you are looking to try some new teas or accessories, check out our range for a variety of options. Happy sipping!