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How to Eat & Appraise Oysters

We take an in-depth look at how to eat and appraise raw oysters...

How to eat oysters

The freshest and tastiest oyster is the oyster that's just been expertly shucked and served immediately. A fresh, natural, succulent and delicious bite that makes you want to reach for another...

Once shucked and served, the oyster meat should be surrounded by the oyster's liquor - the small pool of clear sea water in the bottom of the cupped shell. The oyster's liquor is robust in flavour, and is essential to the oyster's taste experience. Don't spill it, or pour it out.

Take a fork and swirl the oyster meat a little to check that the oyster meat is detached from the cupped shell.

To taste, lift the cupped shell to your lips and tip the shell a little to take a sip of the oyster's liquor.

Then, tip the shell further and enjoy the oyster meat. Wait a few seconds for the fresh clean taste of the sea.

Next, chew the oyster meat slowly to release the succession of flavour notes, which are subtle and distinctive. Finally, swallow.

Now reach for another. Try a squeeze of lemon juice, or a few drops of Tabasco Pepper Sauce.

How to appraise raw oysters

The oyster is usually named from where it is cultivated and harvested.

Oyster connoisseurs can usually identify what area an oyster comes from by the appearance of its shell and/or its unique flavour.

Each oyster is unique, with its shell characteristics, and meat flavour influenced by its own 'meroir' (similar to wine and 'terroir'), such as site location, waters (salinity, nutrients, temperatures, tides), climates, and seasons.

For example: Maldon Pacific Oysters are cultivated and harvested from inter-tidal waters at the River Blackwater Estuary, which has significant salt marshes (coastal grass that is flooded and drained by salt water tides) on the banks of the river. As a result, the unique flavour of Maldon Pacific Oysters include notes of the fresh clean sea and salt marsh.

See Oyster Map

Oyster Appraisal Guide

Whenever we want to appraise and compare oysters, we use our Oyster Appraisal Guide, which includes:

Oyster Name
The oyster is usually named from where it's cultivated.

Shell Appearance
Approximate shell length (inches), cup depth (shallow, medium or deep), shell shape (elongated, rounded), and shell colour.

Meat Texture
Describe the texture of the oyster meat. Examples: Chewy, Delicate, Firm, Meaty, Plump, Silky, Soft, Smooth.

Rate the brininess out of 10. Neutral = 1; Very salty = 10.


Rate the sweetness out of 10. Neutral = 1; Very sweet = 10.

Identify and describe the succession of flavour: Usually a succession of two flavour notes. See examples*

Identify and describe the specific taste at the end: The one flavour note that lingers on the palate. See examples*

*Body and Finish examples: Apple, Avocado, Bark, Brackish, Briny, Buttery, Celery, Citrus, Creamy butter, Creamy cheese, Cut grass, Driftwood, Fresh clean sea, Green wood, Herbs, Cashew, Copper, Cucumber, Earthy, Lettuce, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Melon, Metallic, Mixed lettuce, Nutty, Ocean, Parsley, Pear, Pecan, Salted butter, Salty, Soy, Tangy, Tin, Walnut, Watermelon, Woody, Zinc.

Oyster Appraisal Guide (PDF)

Our Oyster Appraisal Guide is excellent fun for oyster parties, events, functions and other occasions.

Download/print Oyster Appraisal Guide 

Nervous about raw oysters?

Most people who say they don't like oysters, have never actually tried them.

If you've never tried oysters before, try the smallest raw oyster first. On first impression, the oyster meat will taste of the fresh clean sea. However, after a few oysters, you'll start to notice and identify the succession of subtle flavour notes.

Or, try cooked oysters first...

Try our 'Grilled Oysters with Herb Butter' - always a hit! For a little extra indulgence try 'Grilled Oysters with Blue Cheese & Whisky'. For a taste of Thailand, it has to be 'Grilled Oysters with Thai Butter'. Almost all children love 'Pan Fried Oysters' or the classic 'Fried Oyster Po' Boy'.

For inspiration and ideas, browse our Oyster Recipes

See All Oysters