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Counter Intelligence

All the Oysters- What's What, Where They're From, and How They Taste

By on

The folks at Fortune Fish & Gourmet have compiled a fairly comprehensive list of oyster type descriptions.

The Oyster Guide

Pacific Oysters
There are an infinite number of names and harvest locations for these oysters. They are all the same species with only two exceptions. The species that are cultured on the west coast are:

Crassostrea gigas - Originated from Japan.
Crassostrea sikameo –Kumamoto, really a sub species of gigas.
Ostrea lurida - Olympia. The gigas is a pacific oyster indigenous to Japan that is widely grown in California and the Pacific Northwest. Different names are used to describe where the oysters were harvested. Generally it is a bay, beach, island or canal.
The Kumamoto is a sub species of the gigas and is raised from British Columbia to Mexico. Most oyster connoisseurs recognize the Washington and Oregon Kumamoto as the true Kumamoto. The Kumamotos from this area tend to be the smaller, sweeter variety that is familiar to most people. The California Kumamoto is also nice but is a bit larger in size. Technically the California Kumamoto is a hybrid between a gigas and a Kumamoto. The mortality rate of the seed/spat of a Kumamoto is very high, thus yields in the oyster beds are never as high as the grower would like. Therefore, they tend to be less available and more expensive. This may be one of the reasons that the hybrid Kumamoto was developed, to have a stronger oyster that survived better and could be produced in a larger quantities.
All but one west coast oyster falls into the first category of gigas. The exception is the Olympia. The Olympia is the only indigenous oyster to the west coast. These are also hard to find due to small production.
For the most part the west coast oyster is in season late September through mid-June. The seasonality varies depending on weather conditions.

Blashke Island - Grown in the Clarence Strait in Alaska. These oysters have a colorful fluted but not fragile shell. The meats are full, sweet and lightly salty.

Chef Creek - Grown in deep bay waters in Baynes Sound, British Columbia. They are grown in a completely submerged environment and consequently, they have a shorter shelf life. The meat is very plump and the flavor is mildly salty with a sweet, melonesque aftertaste. Known for their pretty, fluted shell and golden mantle.

Coromandel - This species is not native to New Zealand. It was probably accidentally introduced through traveling ships. It is the most widely farmed oyster and is now cultivated in New Zealand. The flesh is lighter colored with a black mantle (edge). It is sweet and salty with a pronounced watermelon like aftertaste.

Cortes Island - Grown on northern Cortes Island British Columbia. It is harvested from inter-tidal waters. It has a briny, full flavored finish, described best as salty and sweet with a fruity finish. The shell is smooth with a full cup.

Dabob Bay - These oysters are harvested from Dabob Bay, Washington. They are delicate in texture, briny, yet sweet in flavor finishing with a fresh fruitfulness. Harvested at a young age, you’ll enjoy the ocean freshness.

Deer Creek - A smaller oyster perfect for the beginner oyster eater. This oyster is grown on the cobble beaches of the Puget Sound. Harvested at approximately 2 yrs of age this oyster has a fresh, briny and crisp flavor. The cup is round and
deep and flush with meat.

Denman Island - Grown on the Beaches of Denman Island, British Columbia. This is a hearty oyster with a thick, hard shell. Fresh watermelon flavor exudes in addition to the cold-water saltiness, crunchy texture and sweet, full meat.

Emerald Cove - These oysters are grown in the rich waters off of Denman Island, British Columbia. The meat is full and plump with a mild, sweet and mellow finish.

Evening Cove - This oyster is beach cultured on the east side of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This makes a beautiful plate presentation due to its artful fluted shell. This visual wonder is a clean, smooth oyster with a fresh briny finish.

Fanny Bay - These oysters are grown in Fanny Bay on the East coast of Vancouver Island in Baynes Sound. This oyster is started using a suspension method and then transferred to the inter-tidal for hardening, and beach-cultured. They are salty, yet sweet with a firm, plump flesh with a dark mantle. Their thick shells make for easy opening.

Gold Creek - This oyster is grown on the rocky beaches of the southern end of the Puget Sound of Washington State. The inter-tidal habitat is perfect for faster growth and a hardened shell perfect for shucking. The name is derived from the location that boasts the rich history of oyster farming dating back to the gold rush days. Crisp and briny, a real Puget Sound dandy.

Golden Mantle - These oysters are tray raised in the pristine waters of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, just north of the Powell River. The shell is deeply cupped with a golden hue and the meat is full with a noticeably sweet, melon like finish.

Hunter Point - This Pacific oyster is grown on the beaches of the inlets in the clean watershed of the Olympic Mountain Range. This is a full meat oyster with a firm texture and briny finish.

Imperial Eagle - This oyster is grown on the isolated beaches of the Imperial Eagle Channel of Barclay Sound, British Columbia. It has a harder shell that is colorful and the meat is saltier than most west coast oysters, however, it has a delightful watermelon-rind, fresh cucumber finish.

Kumamoto - This is a small oyster with a very deep cup. The shell is rounder than it is long. The meat may have a slight green or pink hue with a dark mantle. It has a smooth buttery texture and abundant slightly salty, fruity flavor. They are raised anywhere from British Columbia to Mexico.

Kusshi - This small deeply cupped oyster is grown to mimic the outstanding characteristics of the Kumamoto Oyster although; they are tray grown in the rich waters off of Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada. They are tray raised, but tumbled regularly to take the length out of the growth, causing the oyster to grow deeper in profile. This effort creates a deep cupped, meaty little oyster.

Malaspina - A firm oyster that is very salty and mildly sweet. It has a very pronounced cucumber finish. The shell is thick with a deep cup. British Columbia is its home.

Mirada - This oyster is grown in Southern Hood Canal on pristine beaches. It has a thick shell and a sweet finish. A nice, medium sized oyster.

Miyagi - This oyster is beach farm raised at the foot of the Olympic Mountain range along the shores of Washington State's southern Puget Sound. They have heavy fluted shells, making them prime for shucking, and the meats are quite nice; full and crisp, but not too salty. These are also referred to as “Rain Coast” oysters. This oyster has a very light, clean flavor and a kiwi-like finish.

Nootka Sound - This oyster is grown on the remote wind swept beaches of northwestern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It has a thicker, fluted shell and the meat is salty, plump and rich.

Olympia - The only indigenous west coast oyster, now grown in the Pacific Northwest. The smallest commercially grown oyster, with a tiny, round, flat shell. Moderately salty, very robust, complex, metallic, earthy, nutty and sweet.

Otter Cove - These suspension-grown oysters are very visually aesthetic and their clean appearance provides a consistently sweet, briny flavor.

Palela Bay - Harvested from the southernmost parts of the Puget Sound near Hartstene Island. This oyster is larger in size, approx 4”. The flavor is mild and the meat is full. This is perfect for grilling.

Pearl Point - Thick shelled and beach grown, this pacific oyster’s meat is full and crisp with a mildly salty, sweet, cantaloupe finish. It’s a real Pearl that does not get “spawney” in the summer.

Pebble Beach - Beach raised in the southern end of the Hood Canal. This bag-raised oyster is grown in food rich, fast moving waters and is hand harvested. It has a nice fluted, easy to shuck shell, a full briny meat with a pleasantly sweet finish.

Penn Cove Select - Originating where the Samish River meets the northern Puget Sound, these beach-raised oysters are intensively cultured to an extra small half-shell size before being taken to Whidbey Island’s scenic Penn cove in Washington. The meat is firm with a crisp, briny flavor leaving a fresh aftertaste.

Pickering Pass - This oyster is bag cultivated and beach hardened in the Pristing waters of Pickering Passage in the South Puget Sound Region. The oyster is grown to the size of 4 inches long with a deep fluted, ridged cup lending ideally to a flavorful half-shell oyster.

Quilcene - This oyster has firm, crisp meat with a briny and sweet aftertaste. It has a colorful, fluted shell. Raised in Discovery Bay, Washington.

Rainier - This large oyster is beach grown on the Puget Sound's southern most beaches in view of majestic Mt. Rainier. This oyster has the same flavor characteristics of our popular half-shell sized Gold Creek Oysters. The meat is full and firm with a briny, sea fresh taste.

Sisters Point - Beach grown in Hood Canal, Washington. They are thick-shelled oyster raised in a small family-run operation. The deep cup produces a delightful firm, meaty textured oyster with a cucumber, briny finish.

Skookum - Grown in the heart of oyster country, down in Little Skookum inlet or Totten inlet. These oysters are rack and bag grown to start and finished on beaches to harden the shell. Very sweet, slightly briny and fruity.

Snow Creek - This oyster has a firm, plump meat with a briny and sweet aftertaste. They vary in size depending on the time of year. Raised in Discovery Bay, Washington.

Stellar Bay - A perfectly shaped tray raised Pacific oyster from the cold waters of Baynes Sound in British Columbia. This oyster has an appearance of a tray-raised oyster without the frilly edges. It also has a nice deep cup, full meat with a mildly sea sweet, crisp texture.

Stranges Bay - A beach grown farmed oyster originating in Stranges Bay off the west coast of Cortes Island. Characterized by its green, hard shell and meaty texture with a fruity finish. Available September through June.

Sun Hollow - The Sun Hollow oyster is bag cultured in Puget Sound, more specifically, in the tidal zones of beaches of Lower Hood Canal. The beach grow out produces a thick shell, and a strong adductor muscle. The thick shell prevents splintering during shucking, and the strong adductor keeps the valves shut and the liquor intact. The Sun Hollow possesses a medium to high salinity and a sweet finish.

Sunset Beach - This oyster is beach raised in South Hood Canal, Washington. This is a hearty oyster, medium in size with a full, mildly briny meat. -This delicious oyster is grown via a suspended tray system, Grown in Netarts Bay Oregon, The nice light shell and clean , crisp oyster meat makes this oyster a one of a kind, they are nice and meaty and do not get “spawney” in the summer.

Thorndyke Bay - This oyster is grown on the beaches of Thorndyke Bay, Northern Hood Canal, Washington. This oyster is smaller, however, the meat is firm and full with plenty of shell liquor. The flavor is balanced, not too salty, just right.

Totem Point - This oyster is the larger version of the Whitney Point oyster. It is grown in the Quilcene Bay of Washington and has a perfect flavorful blend of sweetness and saltiness.

Viking Bay - A bag cultured, beach hardened oyster. Grown off the west coast of Cuadra Island in British Columbia. This oyster has white meat with a mild, sweet flavor. Available September through June.

Whitney point - this beach grown oyster is easy to shuck due to its hard, colorful shell with firm, full, sweet and salty meat.

Wildcat - These are great beach raised, near the big bend of the Hood Canal in Washington State. This oyster has a clean, deep, cupped shell, while the meat on the inside has a light salinity and is crisp.

Willapa Bay - These oysters are beach grown on the Pacific shores of Washington State. The shell is colorful and clean. The meat is full and firm with the perfect blend of sweet and salty. This oyster shucks well due to the hard shell.

East Coast Oysters
There are an equally infinite number of names and harvest locations for these East Coast oysters. Even though the majority of oysters on the Atlantic Coast are crassostrea Virginica they vary quite a bit in looks and flavor. The other species is the ostrea Edulis. This is a European oyster now cultured in New England and the Pacific Northwest. It is best known as the Belon oyster.

Alpine Bay - Harvested in Prince Edward Island, Canada by hand. These oysters have a smooth, copper colored shell with a deep cup, a crunchy bite and a clean aftertaste.

BeauSoleil - Cultivated in the chilly North Atlantic waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in New Brunswick, Canada these oysters are cultured close to the water surface in floating bags. Grown in sparsely populated coastal areas, these oysters have the benefit of almost complete isolation. These small to medium sized oysters are mildly briny with a clean refined finish.

Belon - Also known as the European Flat. Technically the name “Belon” refers to oysters grown in Brittany, France. It has a craggy, round, shallow shell. This oyster is characterized by an intense flavor that is both sweet and salty, metallic with a strong finish.

Blackberry Point - These oysters are deep cupped and well defined with a greenish hue. The meats are full with a mildly salty flavor and a sweet clean finish. They are grown in Foxley River, Northwestern Prince, Edward Island Canada. They are essentially a Large Conway cup they are available only through February and march. These oysters are about 3 1⁄2 in to 4 1⁄2 in.

Bluepoint - This is a mild Atlantic oyster. “Bluepoint” is often used to describe any mild oyster from the East Coast. The original Bluepoint was from Long Island Sound. Today, a lot of oysters out of Connecticut are also called Bluepoints. The quality and look are the same. These used to be inexpensive and readily available however now they are pricey and limited in quantity as any specialty oyster.

Bras D’or - These oysters are harvested from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Grown wild these oysters have flatter bodies with curved shells and deep cups. They are very briny as are most northern Canadian oysters.

Buzzards Bay - Harvested from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. A uniform shaped shell with a small to medium sized, crisp, briny oyster.

Cape Breton - These oysters originate from the Bra D’or Lakes in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. These large lakes are connected to the ocean thus this oyster tends to be somewhat briny with a smooth finish. These are very similar to the Bras D’or.

Cape Neddick - These have a plump, full, round to oblong shell. The shell is very thick and the meat is mildly salty with a light mantle. Connecticut harvested, excellent quality oyster that is substantial in size. Could also be called large.

Bluepoint-same area...

Caraquet - Harvested from New Brunswick, Canada. These oysters come in several sizes; we buy the small and the medium. They are oblong in shape and the shell is a light brown marbled with white. The meat is full and the flavor is sweet and salty. They may not be big but they pack a punch!

Cavendish Cups – Sourced from the Northwestern Prince Edward Island. Graded as a large oyster, provides an unparalleled level of consistency and quality. Meats are full and firm, with a strong briny flavor profile.

Chedabucto Bay - Harvested from the pristine waters of Nova Scotia’s beautiful Bras D’or Lakes, Canada’s inland sea. There is a distinctive salty taste to this area, so the oysters have a nice briny kick to them. These are similar to Cape Breton and Bras D’or.

Chesapeake Bay - Harvest in Martha’s Vineyard, MA. This oyster is first-rate oyster that is firm in texture and has the right balance of salinity.

Chilmark/Martha’s Vineyard - A briny crisp oyster with a delicate and sweet aftertaste. There are two areas of harvest- Tisbury Pond and Edgartown Pond. The Edgartown area is the first to open with Tisbury to follow. A briny, crisp oyster with a delicate and sweet aftertaste. Harvested Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Colville Bay - These oysters are farmed by hand in a remote region of Eastern Prince Edward Island and have a distinctive green shell. They have an exceptionally sweet taste and a fruity melon finish.

Conway Cup - These oysters are deep cupped and well defined with a pastel greenish hue. The meats are full with a mildly salty flavor and a sweet clean finish. They are grown in Cascumpeque Bay, Foxley River, Prince Edward Island Canada.

Cooke’s Cocktail -This is a true Malpeque oyster that starts with a subtle brininess and has a clean, fruity finish. Judged the world’s best oyster at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, France. Thought to be the very essence of what an oyster should be.

Delaware Bay - Delaware Bay produces oysters with two distinct flavors, one form inner bay and other from Cape Shore. The Cape Shore oysters are briny, with a sweet, nutty astringency while the inner bay oysters have milder flavor, both with plump firm meat.

East Beach – Sourced through Charlestown Salt Pond, located in southeastern Rhode Island. Their meats are best characterized as having a high salinity and firm texture.

Fisher Island - Named for the small island located in the Block Island Sound, off the coast of Eastern Connecticut, these oysters are carefully selected for several desirable characteristics. These include firm, sweet meats with excellent brine content, due to the cool high salinity of these pristine oceanic waters, and exceptionally deep cups and clean shells.

Glidden Point/Pemaquid - A deep-water oyster that has a light colored mantle and light colored meat. This oyster has a thick shell with meaty, firm, salty meat. Harvested at Glidden Point, Pemaquid River, Maine.

Hurricane Harbor - This oyster is hand harvested from Northumberland Strait and is small to medium in size with a tan/greenish color shell. They have a firm, crisp salty meat with a sweet finish.

Indian Point - A wild, hand-harvested, cold water oyster with a chestnut brown shell. Their fluted, firm shell makes it a pleasure to open, yielding crisp, slightly briny meat, finishing with a subtle, slightly sweet sea flavor. Harvested in Prince Edward Island.

Island Creek - This oyster has a crisp texture and a high salt content with a subtle finish. They are medium in size with plump meat. These oysters are harvested from Hunts Flats, Duxbury Harbor, Massachusetts.

Jules Island - Similar to the Island Creek oyster. It has a crisp texture with a high salt content. Harvested from Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts.

La St. Simon - A very unique oyster crafted in the Shippagan region of New Brunswick, Canada. Sweet and buttery, the delicate flavor leaves you with a lightly salty feeling and the finish is a unique fusion of both citric and sweet flavors.

Lady Chatterly - Grown out in the pristine waters of Nova Scotia are marked by excellent cup definition, and thick, chip-resistant shells. The flavor is overtly briny and very comparable to the ever-popular, Tatamagouche.

Malpeque - This oyster has become as familiar to many oyster eaters as the Bluepoint. This oyster comes in a variety of sizes but the flavor is the same. It has a slightly bitter, lettuce like flavor, clean aftertaste and firm juicy texture. Harvested from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Martha’s Vineyard - Wild harvested from saltwater ponds which are open to the Atlantic Ocean, each oyster has a wonderfully classic oyster shape. With an emerald green shell, that when shucked presents beautifully on the half-shell, each firm plump meat is crisp and moderately salty.

Moonstone - This oyster has a rich, briny flavor. The oysters are very uniform in size and are power washed to strengthen and clean the shells. These oysters are cultured by rack and bag method in Point Judith Pond, Rhode Island.

Muscongus Bay - These cultured oysters are raised from spat at the Muscongus Bay Aquaculture farm. The oysters are harvested by dragging and then carefully graded by hand. Their deep cup, large shell is white and beautiful and is easy to shuck. The meat has a medium high salinity and a mild metallic finish. The oysters are purged for a minimum of 2 days to assure a very clean oyster.

Mystic - These lovely oysters are grown in Fisher Island off the Connecticut coast. Cultivated to be almost round in appearance, they have strong, aesthetically well-cupped shells. The flavor is balanced with a delicate salt content and sweet, lingering liquor. Very appealing to all of the senses with a rich and creamy finish.

Nasketucket - These oysters are grown in Nasketucket Bay in New Bedford, Massachusetts in the suspended floating cage method. They are grown for 2 years to reach their 3 inch size. Their light colored, uniform shell houses a flavorful, yet salty beauty.

Ninigret Cup - Our Ninigret Cup oysters are a terrific variety offering both consistency of size and shape as well as year round availability. Grown in the brackish waters of Ninigret Salt Pond in Charlestown, Rhode Island; these oysters possess a complex buttery and nutty flavor with a pleasing briny finish.

North Haven - This oyster is sourced through a family fishery located on North Haven Island, Maine The North Haven oysters are available 12 months a year, but are recommended late fall trough early summer. Size wise, the North Havens are approximately three to four inches in diameter. Shell shape is typically round, with a well-defined cup. Salinity is constant and high during the winter months; however, in the summer there will be some fluctuation in the salinity dependent on the quantity of rainfall the island receives. These oysters are exclusively diver harvested in order to promote sustainability and the highest level of quality control.

North Point - This oyster has a clean, crisp, salty flavor. It is harvested from the icy cold waters of Northern Prince Edward Island.

Old Salts - This oyster is aqua cultured in Chincoteague, VA. The truest taste of the ocean! It has bold sea-side brininess with a sweet, clean finish.

Pemaquid - Also known as Glidden Point, this thick shelled oyster is meaty, firm and salty. The flavor is sweet and mildly salty with an almond-like finish.

Portage Island – These oysters possess a terrific shape, and a consistency outstanding meat- yield that can hardly be contained by their shells. They are medium to medium- high salinity. Harvested in Acadian Peninsula, New Brunswick.

Potter Moon - These oysters are grown in Potters Pond, Matunuck, Rhode Island. The meat is plump and has a strong briny flavor with a sweet finish.

Prudence Island - Farm raised in the nutrient rich waters of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. These oysters are cultured to produce an oyster with a deep cup and tough shells. They have plump meats and a clean briny finish.

Rappahannock - These oysters are aqua cultured in Wake, VA. Deep cupped and mineral rich, with an understated saltiness that lets the oyster’s natural flavor come through. They have a sweet, buttery, full bodied taste with a refreshingly clean, crisp finish.

Raspberry Point - These oysters are grown in cages on the bottom of the pristine waters of Raspberry Point in Prince Edward Island. The growth cycle is 6 1⁄2 years to cultivate this nicely salted, crisp meat that finishes clean.

Revel’s Island - These oysters are ocean grown on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. They are a unique blend of bold salt flavors with delicate mineral hints, deep well formed cup bursting with firm plump white meats.

Rome Point - This is a wonderful oyster grown in Narragansett Bay. Well known for the salty ocean flavor and buttery aftertaste.

Saddle Rock - Another Long Island Sound, NY oyster. This beauty is moderately salty with a clean taste of the ocean. The “benchmark” by which all Bluepoints are judged!

Salute - A small to medium deep cupped oyster from Prince Edward Island. Rounder in shape than a Malpeque, briny, sweet, plump.

Salvation Cove - Harvested in Prince Edward Island. Good quality and salinity.

Snow Hill - These bold, briny oysters are raised in Chincoteague Bay, Maryland. Their unique flavor is a balance of cool ocean salt and freshwater sweetness that imparts the flavor of the sea without the “smack” of salt. The yeasty sweetness is reminiscent of new Brunswick’s BeauSoleils.

South Hampton - These oysters are grown in the Robin’s Island waters at the eastern tip of Long Island. Aquatrays keep these growing oysters off of the mud bed of the bay and yield a clean, uniform shell and full, bright meat with a silky texture. A delicate sweetness is immediately followed by a strong brininess due to their high salinity.

St. Anne - These are generally larger than most Nova Scotia Oysters. Fairly consistent in size and are packed with flavor. Briny, crisp, clean and crunchy. These oysters have a whiter, smoother, rounder shell.

Stingray - This is the quintessential Chesapeake Bay oyster. Sweet, mildly briny with a clean, crisp finish.


Tatamagouche - A salty and rich tasting oyster from the northern coast of Nova Scotia. Similar to a Chedabucto Bay.

Wallace Bay - This oyster is very similar to Malpeque, it is has a slightly bigger shell and is harvested from Prince Edward Island. Meat is very full, sweet and briny.

Watch Hill - This is a small farm raised oyster from Rhode Island. Very sweet with firm pink meat. It is one of the most flavorful oysters on the market. Rated as one of New England’s finest oysters by Bon Appetite Magazine. They have a pink or purple shell that is flatter, almost like a scallop shell, they look fanlike.

Wellfleet - A medium sized shallow shelled oyster, which is very meaty with clean and crisp taste. They are harvested in Wellfleet Harbor off Cape Cod.

Westport - A crisp, briny tasting, small to medium size oyster in a uniformly shaped shell. Similar to Buzzards Bay.

Wianno - Wianno is a quiet village on the South Shore of Cape Cod named after the local Indian Chief of the Mattacheese tribe. Wianno Oysters are grown in the crystal clear waters of Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound. Always harvested by hand, Wianno Oysters have a pearl white interior shell and a distinctive exterior that denotes a superior quality New England Oyster. These plump, succulent oysters have the distinct sweet and briny “Wellfleet” flavor

Wiley Point - This diver-harvested oyster is farmed in a select sub tidal area of the Damariscotta River in central Maine. Started as hatchery seed, Wiley’s grow into one of the best-tasting and most treasured New England oysters. The meats themselves are large, light in texture, and are of a relatively high salinity with a briny flavor and a finish with a hint of watermelon.

Winter Harbor - Truly a boutique oyster, these aqua cultured oysters are extremely limited in supply due to their short growing season. Each oyster receives close scrutiny from the hatchery to harvest. Cage grown, completely off the bottom, yielding sweet salty meats with a clean, buttery aftertaste.

Winter Point - Our Winter Point oysters are grown in Mill Cove, a clay bottomed inlet located in West Bath, Maine. The Gulf of Maine provides an endless stream of nutrient rich waters to these oysters, which are started in an up dweller, transferred to a bottom-culture rack and tray system, and then finished on the clay sea floor. The Winter Point oysters are premium in every sense of the word, and year round availability makes them something of an anomaly as a Mid-Coast Maine Oyster. Winter Points possess a medium salinity and a slightly sweet flavor.

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