From slurping them back with some bubbly on the beach to frying them up for a sandwich to putting down a dozen or two at happy hour, Americans just can’t get enough of oysters. We’re also pretty efficient at harvesting them: These delicious bivalves actually represent the highest-volume production of shellfish in the country, with 42 million pounds of oysters harvested in 2019 alone, according to the Fisheries of the United States report.

While any oyster lover might have the basics down on the differences between East Coast and West Coast oysters, the nuances of the category can get deep. In addition to there being a range of oyster varieties available around the country, each oyster-producing region in the U.S. offers different growing conditions that can massively impact the size, shape, texture, and flavor of the oysters residing there. This individuality is similar to the concept of terroir in wine, but is aptly termed “merroir,” as it refers to the marine environment. Exploring and comparing the different flavor expressions across multiple regions is part of what makes tasting oysters so compelling. Click here to read more.