Wheel Scales:

This is a 5-point loudness scale from the inner thick grey line, with a 6th out-of-scale point for situations that far outside of the normal expected experience. No points are scored when the element is not noticeable.

Aroma: An average of the dry tea leaves aroma, the wet tea leaves aroma, and the tea liquor aroma.
Berry Fruit: Wild berries, red berries, strawberry, raspberry, black berries, blackberry, and blackcurrant.
Citrus Fruit: Bergamot, lemon, yuzu, sumac berry (spice), orange, mandarin orange, grapefruit, rosehip, and citrus rind.
Tropical/Exotic Fruit: Pineapple, melon, honeydew, cantaloupe, lychee, coconut, mango, papaya, and dragon fruit.
Dried/Candied Fruit: Walnut, hazelnut, fresh almond, chestnut, raisin, dried fig, date, jam, stewed fruit, and dried tomato.
Fresh/Stone Fruit: Apricot, cherry, peach, apple, pear, plum, Muscat grape, grape, and fresh fig.
Fresh Flowers: Jasmine, hyacinth, osmanthus, chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, lily, lilac, geranium, orange blossom, wildflower, and lily of the valley.
Heady Flowers: Rose, orchid, magnolia, peony, and violet.
Dried Grass: Cut hay, straw, and wicker.
Fresh Grass: Cut grass, green wood, stem, fern, and water cress.
Aromatic Herbs: Mint, coriander, dill, basil, rosemary, chervil, tarragon, thyme, and marjoram.
Vegetable: Artichoke, celery, zucchini, cucumber, spinach, fennel, green beans, raw vegetables, cooked vegetables, and vegetable cooking water.
Woody: Dry wood, exotic wood, dead leaves, wet leaves, bark, wood chips, oak, pine, fir, eucalyptus, camphor, maple sap, moss, damp earth, humus, and mushrooms.
Earthy: Earth, mold, peat, humidity, cellar, potato, beetroot, dust, wet rock and truffles.
Roasty: Roasted nuts, grilled, popcorn, toast, grilled almond, roasting, and bacon.
Smokey: Ash, smoked, burnt, wood fire, tobacco, and tar.
Chocolaty: Cocoa, chocolate, cocoa butter, dark chocolate, baker’s chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and Swiss chocolate.
Savory: Sun-dried tomato, soy sauce, poultry meat, red meat, seaweed, kelp, fish, fish meat, oysters, shellfish, clams, and seafood.
Animal: Leather, beaten leather, fur, wet wool, horse, stable, dung, sweat, and musk.
Mineral: Metal, stone, chalk, powder, sulfur, flint, and rocky.
Sweet: Sweet bread, honey, almond paste, vanilla, brioche, caramelized, sugar, and sweet egg.
Spicy: Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, aniseed, clove, pepper, licorice, and garam masala.
Malty: Cereal, bready, barley, wheat, rye, oats, and biscuit.
Fatty: Non-dairy creaminess.
Milky: Fresh butter, melted butter, cream, milk, and almond milk.
Bitterness: Hops, bittergourd, medicinal bitter, and ginseng.
Tannic/Astringency: Drying feeling in the mouth.
Body: A texture that has presence and coats the mouth.
Linger/Finish: Returning sweetness (回甘), which is a cooling sensation in the back of the throat that returns only after the tea is swallowed and may echo of the tea’s main flavors or provide a sweetness that lingers on the palate.
Head Notes: The volatile initial flavor and aroma notes.
Body Notes: The flavor and aroma notes that are perceived when the liquid is in the mouth.
Tail Notes: The flavor and aroma notes that remain in the mouth after the liquid has been swallowed.

Special Scales:

Balance: This is the various characteristics of the tea coming together to perfect the taste experience. 5 circles are for outstanding balance. 4 circles are for excellent balance. 3 circles are for good balance with some minor imperfections. 2 circles are for slightly out of balance with some minor off flavors. 1 circle is for substantially out of balance with some major off flavors. 0 circles are for extremely out of balance with pronounced faults. It is expected that most teas that are tasted with this rubric will fall between 3 circles through 5 circles.
Rating: 5 stars are for teas to which it is worth dedicating a single unglazed clay teapot for flavor amplification. 4 stars are for teas that are worth keeping in constant stock at home. 3 stars are for teas worth periodically purchasing for home brewing. 2 stars are for teas worth periodically buying brewed at a teahouse or teashop. 1 star is for teas that would drink again, but would not go out of the way to drink and would never purchase for home brewing. 0 stars are for teas that are not worth consuming again ever. It is expected that most teas that are tasted with this rubric will fall between 2 stars through 4 stars.


33 Books Company, 33 Leaves of Tea (2016).

Kevin Gascoyne, et al., Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties, 210–219 (2d ed. 2013).

Lydia Gautier, Tea: Aromas and Flavors Around the World, 126–132 (2005).