East coast oysters. West coast oysters. Like Tupac and Biggie, the rivalry between the two has spanned the ages. The two varieties of oysters each sport their own merroir, shape, size, and mouth feels. Knowing the difference between the two can help you know what to expect when getting your slurp on.
East Coast oysters like our White Stone Oysters are often smoother with larger cups and a briny, savory flavor. White Stone Oysters, for example, very sweet, vegetal, and umami notes with a medium salinity. West Coast oysters tend to have a ruffled shell with a deeper cup, are larger, and have a subtle mineral flavor. Typically, West Coast oysters are also a bit on the saltier side.
Where and when an oyster is harvested can have a dramatic effect on its flavor. This flavor, called the merroir is a mixture of different factors like water salinity, food quality, temperature, and more. It reflects where the oyster was raised, encapsulated in its liquor.
On the East Coast, oysters are harvested from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Canada. However, a large majority are harvested right here in the Chesapeake Bay. Our beautiful waters are uniquely positioned to produce flavorful, fresh oysters year-round.
On the West Coast, oysters can be harvested from Chile to Alaska, but are often found or grown in the colder waters of northern California, Oregon, and Washington. This colder, brackish water produces large, salty oysters.
Where to Buy Oysters?
Fresh seafood purveyors and markets often stock high-quality oysters. Ask your neighbors about their favorite local butcher. You can also check out this recent blog we wrote on where and how to buy oysters.