Twinings Glossary


Tranquillity; one of the principles established by Sen Rikyú that underpin the Japanese Tea Ceremony.


An ornately decorated Russian tea urn that supplies hot tea throughout the day. Samovars consist of a metal urn containing water, topped by a cradle that holds a teapot. Heat comes from an internal charcoal-burning pipe. Modern samovars are heated electrically.


Describes a tea liquor which has a full juicy flavour.

Scented Tea

These are teas which, after processing, are put in close proximity with various flowers or spices under controlled temperature and humidity conditions for periods of about 4 hours and then re-fired.


A traditional type of flour-based baked bun, with a sweet and crumbly texture halfway between bread and cake. The scone (pronounced 'skon') is an essential ingredient of cream tea. Recipes vary and may include currants or sultanas.


Describes an original tea which is palatable in itself and does not necessarily require blending before being consumed by the public.

Sen Rikyú (1522-1591)

The greatest exponent of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Sen Rikyú took the ritual back to the simple modesty of its founders. He established the principles of wabi and sabi that underpin the ceremony.

Sencha tea

These are Japan's everyday green tea, which Japan exports and comprise about 75% of Japan's total production. They comes in a variety of grades.


A tea clipper built in Greenock by Robert Steele in 1863. The Serica competed in the famous clipper race of 1866, taking 99 days to travel from Foochow to London. The Serica came third, a couple of hours behind the Taeping and the Ariel.


(see Shen Nung)

Shen Nung, Emperor

Chinese legend attributes the discovery of tea to the Emperor Shen Nung (pronounced 'Shay-Nung' and sometimes written 'Shennong') in 2737 BC. Although Shen Nung is widely regarded as a scholar and a herbalist, it was imperial etiquette that gave him credit for the discovery. In those days all good ideas were attributed to the Emperor.

Silver Tip Pekoe

A very costly tea from China made from full-grown buds of a special bush. This is also referred to as White Tea.

Silvery Oolong

Another costly tea which utilizes the delicate whitish from the first flush.


This term describes an odour or taste of smoke, often caused by a defect in the drier.


A tea, which is under fermeted or oxidizes. Describes a tea which is lacking life. Opposite to brisk.

Soil Association

The UK's leading certification body for organic foods. The Soil Association is an independent organization that certifies about 70% of food produced in the UK. The Soil Association is responsible for certifying Twinings organic teas and infusions.


This describes an undesirable acid odour and taste.


A liquor having character, suggestive of cinnamon or cloves. This is sometimes, but not always, the effect of contamination.


Used to describe a tea with visible stalk.


A tea which holds its original colour and flavour is described in this manner.


No surprises here. A tea liquor which is above average.

Stewed; Stewy

Describes certain thick liquoring teas, having undesirable characteristics as a result of incorrect firing.

Strand, 216

The site of Twinings dry tea and coffee shop since 1717. After three centuries, the shop (together with the associated Twinings Museum) remains as fascinating and lively as ever.

Strength; Strong

Describes liquor with powerful tea characteristics, but not necessarily thick. A very desirable characteristic, but not essential in certain flavoury teas.

Strength Meter

A row of leaves found on Twinings teas that indicates the expected flavour strength of the tea inside the box ranging from one-two leaves as light, three as medium, four as robust and five as strong.

Suez Canal

A 169km canal linking the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. The Canal was built between 1859 and 1869 by the Suez Canal Company under the supervision of the French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Unreliable winds in the Red Sea forced the tea clippers to take the long route round southern Africa, while steamships took full advantage of the newly-opened shortcut.

Sullivan, Thomas

A New York tea importer who sent samples of tea to his customers in small silk bags. His customers were soon asking to buy their tea in bags.

Sultaness Head

A London coffee house at which the earliest-recorded advertisement for tea was posted in 1658 by Thomas Garway.


Tea grown on the island of Sumatra. Gradings and characteristics are similar to Java teas.

Sun tea

A late twentieth-century version of iced tea that originated in the southern states of the US. Cold water and tea bags are placed in a glass-capped pitcher and left to infuse in direct sunlight for a couple of hours.