The Chinese terminology can look daunting. The thing is, it is very convenient to describe tea - using just one word rather than a whole phrase, such as yunxiang instead of "the aroma that appears in the nose once the tea has been swallowed". It's a lazy shorthand, but really compresses the tea notes and conveys the meaning in a concise way. I suppose that's the classical definition of "jargon".
A short glossary would be useful - and I have considered adding one a few times - but figured that it would be redundant, given the ever-excellent Babelcarp, created by Mr. Perin. To that end, I've placed a permanent link in the left column for future newcomers to the Half-Dipper. I tend to not use terms unless they appear in this database, because that's pretty much the "standard reference" for tea-terms in English.
However, I should add a few words on "ku", as I notice it's not in Babelcarp, and is a word I use a great deal. I use it to mean the pleasant (or, at least, potentially pleasant) kind of bitterness that is associated with young shengpu - as distinct from "astringency", the other type of bitterness that tastes exceedingly sharp and unpleasant, usually present near the back of the tongue.
I have heard rumour that the Chinese differentiate between several other types of bitterness, but these two seem to describe most teas I've encountered.
It is said that a good candidate shengpu for aging is one that, as well has having rich, full flavour, has a strong ku. It is this potent bitterness that is, so they say, transformed during the slow shengpu aging process into the more rich, classical flavours associated with truly old tea.
I add the caveats because I haven't been interested in pu'er for the decades required to learn these effects of aging first-hand, of course, having merely sampled different cakes of different ages. I can, at best, rely on the opinions (often translated from Chinese) of those with more years experience with observing the aging process.
So, then, that will hopefully do it for the glossary. Thanks to JW and AB for the initial e-mails and questions.