Thursday, August 7, 2014


Tea is sorted into various grades after processing to create consistency when brewing since smaller, broken pieces of leaves brew faster than the whole leaf.  These grades are not standardized worldwide and therefore grading is more of an art than a science.  A tea’s grade does not necessarily indicate the flavor or quality only general appearance and character, but whole leaf is considered better quality than broken and smaller whole leaves generally have more flavor than larger ones.  Most black teas are graded and sold according to leaf or particle size.  The grading of green and oolong teas is a little more subtle and less structured plus it tends to have more of a relationship with the quality and flavor.  There are 4 basic categories that indicate the different leaf sizes: Whole Leaf, Broken Leaf, Fannings and Dust.  Note that in the typology of grades, the word Orange is used; it originates from the Dutch royal family Oranje Nassau, and does not refer to the fruit.





FOP – Flowery Orange Pekoe (Flowery refers to its shape resembling a crushed flower because it is loosely rolled.  It is a high-quality tea with a long leaf and few tips)

OP – Orange Pekoe
(Pronounced "Peck-oh", it’s often thought that Orange Pekoe is a type of tea, but it’s really just a size. It is generally regarded as a good quality tea.  OP are comprised of larger leaf particles or whole leaves that will not pass through a sieve of a particular gauge.)

PS – Pekoe Souchong
(Usually the fourth leaf of the shoot which means it comes from coarse plucking and is therefore, lower quality)


P – Pekoe (A large broken leaf grade that usually does not contain any visible tips)

BOPBroken Orange Pekoe (Broken into pieces that are typically square             shaped, it is the main broken grade)


F – Fannings (This is a broken leaf about the size of a pin head, usually found in tea bags. The name comes from an old practice of using fans to separate the smallest pieces from the larger)


D – Dust (The finest of all grades, almost powder-like. This size is literally the smallest broken pieces left after siftings, sometimes called the "sweepings" and are used primarily in teabags.)



Additional Modifiers used
in whole and broken leaf grades:
T – Tippy
(A modifier to indicate that there are buds present.

During harvesting the top two leaves and bud are plucked by hand)
G – Golden
(Describing the coloring of the tips or buds

and is considered favorable)




Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the ma
n who takes refuge in him.”

Psalm 34:8

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