Oysters are a slippery bite with a soft yet springy texture. They have a buttery, briny flavor with large notes of seawater.

However, there are many different types of oysters whose different flavor notes vary depending on the region—for instance, cold water oysters have a slower metabolism, and are said to be more plump and sweeter due to their extra storage of fat and sugar. East coast oysters are smaller and less creamy than west coast oysters, have a milder flavor, and are usually brinier tasting. Some oysters may have a gritty or metallic taste, while others may have an intensely salty flavor.

Good oysters will look opaque and never smell or taste “fishy.” Bad oysters will look withered and dry inside the shell and likely smell “off.” If there is no seawater inside the shell, the oyster is likely dead.