Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Oysters but were Afraid to Ask

Part 2: Flavor

An Oyster is like a bottle of wine. They are both products of their environment. The taste of wine will change depending on where the grape is grown, the amount of rain the season brings and the acidity of the soil. The same is true for Oysters. In the last post we discussed the different species of Oysters, but within those species are a multitude of different varieties, found in vast bodies of water and featuring flavor profiles unique to their environment.

Oyster taste is all about the water it grows in. An Oyster found deep in the ocean will have a saltier taste, whereas an Oyster at the mouth of a river will have a sweet taste. These are the basics, but the beauty of Oysters comes in their complexity of taste.

It can certainly be a lot to take in and decipher, but this simple guide will give you the confidence you’ll need to confidently order the perfect Oyster.

If you’re interested in trying an Oyster for the first time you’ll want to stick to the East Coast. Oysters from Virginia, found in rivers will provide the simplest Oyster. Slightly salty Oysters with a sweet finish are perfect for anyone who wants to ease their way into Oysters.Try a Hollywood Oyster from the Patuxent River in Maryland for a milder flavor. Many people prefer these simple, salty East Coast Oysters, but if you want to expand your horizons, the West Coast Crassostrea Gigas Oysters have a bolder, more complex flavor that will challenge your palate slightly more than the Crassostrea Virginica. Crassostrea Gigas Oysters will start with a salty taste and end with either a fruity or mineral finish depending on where they are grown. For example, Emerald Cove Oysters from British Columbia can have a cucumber like flavor.

Sikamea Oysters are small Oysters that pack a huge flavor burst and a lingering, mineral aftertaste that Oyster Connoisseurs love. Olympia Oysters from the West Coast are smaller, with a big, copper flavor that give diners something to mull over. If you really want to challenge yourself with an interesting Oyster, step up to the European Flat Oysters. They have a complex, rich, and layered flavor with hints of salt, fruit and minerals with subtle undertones that Oyster experts will be pleased to pick up on.

With so many Oysters and so many flavors the best thing you can do is find what you like. So, get out there and try some Oysters!