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Tea Flavor Profiles by Tea Type

Which Flavors to Watch for With Each Tea Type

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An image of Oriental Beauty Oolong (a.k.a.

Oolongs like this one may exhibit flavors and aromas such as flowers, honey, dried wood, stewed plums or milk chocolate.

Lindsey Goodwin
Each of the thousands of types of teas in the world has a different flavor and aroma, but there are some generalizations that can be made about the tea flavor profiles. When learning to taste tea, these general tea tasting notes can be helpful reference points for understanding flavors. However, don't let this list limit you! These are just a few of the flavors and aromas that can be found in tea:

Black Tea Flavors
Black teas tend to have bolder, fuller flavors than greens and oolongs.
  • Tannin
  • Malt
  • Chocolate/cocoa
  • Earth/loam/sand
  • Tobacco
  • Metals/minerals
  • Sweet potatoes/yams
  • Stonefruits
  • Orange zest/lemon zest
  • Berries/jam
  • Grapes
  • Raisins/dates
  • Licorice/anise
  • Hops
  • Cinnamon/cloves/nutmeg
  • Vanilla
  • Peppercorn
  • Molasses/caramel
  • Cedar/ash/pine/fir
  • Tar
  • Leather
  • Cut plant stems
Roasted / Fired Green Tea Flavors
These are Chinese-style green teas. Most green teas are made this way outside of Japan. They tend to be fairly mellow.
  • Nuts (especially chestnuts)
  • Flowers (especially white flowers)
  • Melons (honeydew, sprite melon, etc.)
  • Green beans/lima beans
  • Green bell peppers
  • Leeks
  • Bamboo and other wood
  • Vanilla
  • Cocoa
  • Cut plant stems/field grasses
Steamed Green Tea Flavors
These are generally Japanese-style green teas. They can be bold and even astringent.
  • Spinach/watercress/sorrel
  • Cut grass/wheatgrass
  • Seaweed/ocean breeze/iodine
  • Lemon zest
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Bok choy/kale
  • Corn husks/maize
  • Mushrooms
  • Roasted chicken skin
  • Fish broth
  • Field peas
  • Fruit tree flowers
  • Pine
  • Nuts (especially pine nuts and hazelnuts)
Oolong Tea Flavors
Oolong teas tend to be complex, nuanced and capable of a wide range of flavors.
  • Honey
  • Orchids, gardenias and other flowers
  • Lychee and other exotic fruits
  • Peach, apricot, plums and other stonefruits
  • Stewed fruits
  • Citrus (especially nectarines, clementines, pomelos and the like)
  • Green melons
  • Roasted barley and other grains
  • Just-baked bread
  • Milk chocolate
  • Meringue and caramel
  • Cannabis
  • Minerals and rocks
  • Wood
  • Peat moss
  • Fresh, green plant matter
  • Clover and cut wildflower stems
  • Butter or cream
  • Vanilla and baked sweets
  • Coconut
White Tea Flavors
White teas are typically mild, subtle and delicate.
  • Flowers (especially rose, violet and honeysuckle)
  • Honey
  • Field grasses
  • Dried wood
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Potato/taro root/lotus root
  • Sorrel
  • Cocoa
  • Vanilla
  • Nuts (especially walnuts or chestnuts)
  • Apricot or peach
  • Honeydew
Pu-erh Tea Flavors
Pu-erh teas tend to be deep, dark, rich and intense.
  • Mud or mold (sometimes an indicator of poor quality)
  • Dark/bittersweet chocolate
  • Espresso
  • Nuts (especially pecans)
  • Licorice/anise
  • Plum or stewed stonefruits
  • Raisins
  • Moss, loam/peat moss, wood (especially cedar), mushrooms, fallen leaves and other old-growth forest notes
  • Mineral springs/caves
  • Leather
  • Molasses/maple syrup/wildflower honey
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