Tea Terminology: Mouthfeel

If you’ve ever felt lost hearing a tea described as ‘full-bodied’ or wondered what the difference between astringent and bitter is, this post is for you. Rather than a flavour or taste (covered in our previous post on Tea Terminology), mouthfeel refers to the sensation and texture of tea on your tongue or as you swallow. If that sounds a little elusive, imagine the way you perceive milk as compared to water in your mouth, or even the subtle differences in mouthfeel between full cream and skimmed milk. [1]

Astringent: A woefully misunderstood term, astringency refers to the drying feeling from tannins in the tea. In colloquial terms, ‘siap-siap’ is a perfect descriptor for this sensation. Many people avoid astringent teas as they associate it with bitterness, but astringency refers to a mouthfeel rather than a taste! A good amount of astringency can make for a refreshing and pleasant cup of tea.

Creamy: Yes, teas may embody a creamy texture without the addition of any milk or creamiers! Teas with a creamy mouthfeel will linger on in your mouth even after you’ve swallowed, and leaves a sensation of your tongue being coated in tea, similar to milk. Try it with a milky oolong or certain green tea varieties.

Body: A term usually paired with the word ‘full’, for instance ‘this is a full-bodied tea’. Unlike thin, watery textures, full-bodied teas encapsulate a strong, thick consistency, with a full mouthfeel (think meaty broths!). These teas are often associated with teas from India and Sri Lanka.

Balanced: A well-balanced tea is everyone’s cup of tea. Mostly well received, a balanced tea is one that is easy on the palette as all its characteristics work together in harmony. Its taste notes are easily distinguishable, and enhanced by just the right amount of astringency and richness.

Brisk: Used to describe teas that have a little kick to them, as opposed to stale or flat teas. Teas described as brisk usually accompany a pleasant mouthfeel and even a tangy taste that leaves a good impression on you.

With this, you have five more words to elevate your status from novice to tea connoisseur! We hope that expanding your tea vocabulary provides an opportunity to enhance and refine your appreciation of teas, and converse more easily with tea-lovers in the community.

[1] “The Mouthfeel of Tea”. n.d. https://blog.dominiontea.com/2017/06/17/mouthfeel-of-tea/

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