Does a more memorable tea name encourage tea sales? My theory is that it does. So it’s time to put that theory to the test.

“Jade Dew” or “Gyokuro” – which is easier to remember? (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

“Jade Dew” or “Gyokuro” – which is easier to remember? (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

There are actually three issues here, as far as I can see:

  1. The translated names versus the original Asian names on a lot of teas.
  2. The “Romanizing” of the Asian name (being spelled in the “A-B-C” alphabet instead of the original Asian characters) and ending up with a number of versions.
  3. The cute names some tea vendors put on their teas so they will stick in customers’ minds and distinguish their version of a particular tea from others. (A number of smaller online tea vendors have a particular “theme” to their store and want to carry that through to their product names, hoping to get that all-important repeat business.)

How to take the quiz

Read through one of the columns below (either the translated/cute name or the “Romanized” Asian name), wait a moment, then write down on a sheet of paper as many as you can remember. Now read through the other column, wait a moment, then write down on a sheet of paper as many as you can remember. Count each list up to see which you remember most. Now, wait a week and see how many of each you remember.

The Translated/Cute Name The “Romanized” Asian Name
Act Normal high-mountain/foothill grown Ceylon tea
Big Red Robe Wu Yi Da Hong Pao
Black Ruby Experimental Tea #18
Buddha’s Hand Yong Chun Fo Shou
Confused   Tourist Sencha-style   green tea
Dragonwell Longjing, Lungching
Frozen Summit Hong Sui Dong Ding
Fur Tip Xin Yang Mao Jian
Golden Monkey Panyang Congou
Green Sprout Tian Shan Lu Ya
Iron   Goddess Ti Kuan Yin, Tie Guan Yin
Jade Dew Gyokuro,   Yu Lu
Pine Needle An Hua Song Zhen
Queen of Hearts Luxury Green Tea
Rain Flower Nan Jing Yu Hua
Silver Needle Jun Shan, Yin Zhen, Yin Jan
Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun
Toasted Samurai Genmaicha
Water Fairy Feng Huang Shui Xian
White Peony Pai Mu Tan, Bai   Mu Dan

Tea garden names that tend to be more English-sounding seem to stick in people’s memories, too. Some examples of Indian tea estates with English-sounding names or ones that are very short and thus more easy to remember:

  • Darjeeling: Margaret’s Hope (renamed from “Bara Ringtong” in honor of the owner’s young daughter who had hoped to see it again but died on the ocean journey back to England – would the tea be as popular today if the name hadn’t been changed?), Happy Valley, Castleton, Hilton, Glenburn, Arya, Soom, Mim, Kaley Valley, Longview, Mission Hill, Orange Valley, Snowview, Thaesta Valley, Upper Fagu, Princeton, Spring Side, and so on.
  • Nilgiri: Nonsuch, Tiger Hill, Glendale, Lockhart, Mayfield, Highfield (a tea factory), Parkside, and so on.
  • Assam: Tulip, Arun, Dilli, Dewan, Modi, Dubba, Orang, Joya, Hunwal, Oating, Woka, Ananda, Loton Valley, Margherita (not English, but so familiar to many English speakers that it might as well be), Enver Tea, Moran, Maskara, Halem, and so on.

About “Romanized” names: A spelling of the original language name into the alphabet used by English, French, Spanish, or other “Roman” languages (those that are closely linked with Latin as spoken by the Romans during their empire days).

So, how did you do? Does my theory hold up? Do the names in the left column stick more in your mind than the names in the right column? Maybe tea vendors can think about this – it’s tough enough to stand out in a crowded market. Cute, snappy, memorable names might boost sales. They might also disappoint some of us who like knowing the original names.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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