UK oyster terroir guide

Oysters don’t all taste the same – far from it. Like wine, oysters gain much of their flavour from their terroir. The minerals, salinity, and the type of algae they eat in the water that surrounds them all make a difference. Even oysters from the same estuary can vary in flavour depending upon exactly where they are grown. So if you haven’t yet been wowed by oysters, maybe you’ve just been eating the wrong ones! To find out what oysters from around the UK taste like, simply click on the markers on the interactive map below.

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There are two types of oysters widely consumed and available in the UK. The Pacific (or rock) oyster available all year round (red markers) and the native (or flat) oyster available from September to April (blue markers). And if you’re wondering how you eat, or “taste”, an oyster, we recommend that you chew each one a little bit, rather than just slurping it down, and aerate (take a little air in) to allow the flavours to cross the palate and develop fully.

This guide was written by the Shellfish Association of Great Britain (SAGB), the shelfish industry’s trade body based at Fishmongers’ Hall, home to the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, one of London’s oldest guilds and the initiator of Fish on Friday.

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