Twinings Glossary


A lidded receptacle for storing tea in the home. A corruption of the Malay word 'kati' which was adopted (originally as 'catty') by the East India Company as a standard weight of tea (roughly 0.6kg). When tea was at its most expensive, caddies included a lock, for which there was only one key entrusted to the lady of the house.


A component of tea, which stimulates the nervous system. A cup of tea averages 40 milligrams of caffeine versus approximately 110 in a cup of coffee.

Camellia sinensis

An evergreen plant, native to China and formerly known as Thea sinensis. Both green and black teas come from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, although Europeans were not aware of the botanical connection until the mid-nineteenth century.

Camellia sinensis var Assamica

A subspecies of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, which is native to north-eastern India. The Indian tea industry is based on Camellia sinensis var assamica.


One of a group of antioxidants known as flavonoids that occur naturally in tea. Catechins are reputedly 20 times more powerful as antioxidants than vitamin C.

Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705)

Wife of Charles II and daughter of the Duke of Braganza, who later became King John IV of Portugal. Catherine married Charles II in 1662 and brought the Portuguese custom of drinking tea to the English Court. She bore no children and returned to Portugal after Charles' death.


The common name of teas grown in Sri Lanka.


A blend of black tea with various spices and steamed milk as commonly drunk in India. Also, a common name for 'tea'.


A desirable quality in the liquor of a tea, describing the flavour of the tea, permitting recognition of its country of origin.

Charles II (1630-85)

King of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1660-85). Although his wife, Catherine of Braganza introduced tea-drinking to the English Court, Charles was monarch when Parliament first introduced the tea taxes that eventually reached 119%.


Traditional way of packing bulk teas. Usually made of wood with an aluminum lining.


Tea which has been contaminated by improperly seasoned or inferior chest panels.

China Oolong

A select blend of large leaf teas from China.


From the Hindi; means to stamp. A chop of tea means a certain number of chests all carrying the same brand. Each chop of tea should have the same characteristics rather than the same brand. The teas would be from the same batch of manufacture.

Citrus bergamia

(see bergamot)


(see tea clipper)

Clonal teas

Tea bushes grown from cuttings taken from a plant with desirable qualities. This form of vegetative propagation produces identical tea bushes, all bearing the same qualities as the parent plant.

Clotted cream

A type of thick cream with a yellowish crust from the English counties of Devon and Cornwall. Clotted cream is an essential ingredient of a cream tea. It contains an average fat content of 63% (the minimum is 55%) and is produced by cooking full-fat milk over a bain-marie.

Coffee house

Coffee houses were popular places for drinking and socializing in England during the second half of the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth centuries. Competition between them was fierce. Many coffee houses prospered by catering for a specific clientele; some of them developed into important City institutions. Custom forbade women to enter the masculine world of the coffee house.


Describes the liquor of inferior tea having little character.

Commutation Act 1784

An Act of Parliament that ended 100 years of punitive tea taxes. William Pitt, acting on the advice of Richard Twining, introduced the Act to counter the evils of tea-smuggling and to generate increased revenues through legitimate sales of tea.

Compressed tea

Solid cakes of tea, first produced in China during the Tang Dynasty. Compressed teas take many shapes, including bricks and balls. Modern tea bricks are made by the hydraulic compression of tea dust.


Refers to colour of the tea liquor, like a new penny. A good trait resulting from good manufacturing processes.

Cream tea

A popular feature of British social life, combining the gentility of afternoon tea with the indulgence of scones and clotted cream.

Creaming Down

A high quality tea, which turns cloudy generally believed to be caused by the precipitation of tannins. The liquor will look creamy as if milk has been added to the cup.


Describes bright, strong creamy liquor with distinctive character. Usually found in some second flush Assams and Dooars of Orthodox manufacture.

Cut, Tear, and Curl (CTC)

A modern processing method for producing granular leaf particles for strong, quick-brewing tea. CTC is ideal for processing tea for use in tea bags.