Understanding grades of tea will help us find the best quality tea.
Are you interested in knowing about quality?
Grading tea leaves
After processing, the tea is graded by size.
Grades of tea need to be consistent among the various teas because smaller, broken pieces of leaves brew faster than whole leaf.
Here's something I found interesting. Have you seen the words orange pekoe in connection with tea? I thought this had to do with flavor. No, it’s not flavor at all. Read on and see how I was surprised.
Whole leaf is considered a better quality tea than broken leaves. The grades of tea are represented by the initials that follow.
Whole Leaf Grading
- FOP = Flowery Orange Pekoe this is a leaf size. Flowery refers to its shape
- OP = Orange Pekoe is generally regarded as a good quality tea that is rolled up slightly tighter than FOP
- S = Souchong is usually the fourth leaf of the shoot which means it comes from coarse plucking and is therefore, lower quality
Broken Leaf Grading
- P = Pekoe a large broken leaf grade that usually does not contain any visible tips
- BOP = Broken Orange Pekoe broken into pieces
Fannings and Dust Grading
(I consider these as I would cookie crumbs. OK, but I would much rather have the whole cookie.)
- F = Fannings the size usually found in tea bags
- D= Dust the smallest of all grades; almost like powder
Other Grading Terms
- T = Tippy a term in whole and broken leaf grades to indicate that there are buds present
- G = Golden describing the coloring of the tips or buds and is considered favorable
When grading whole leaf teas, they usually start at the lowest grade.
- PS (Pekoe Souchong) to FOP which is a higher quality.
Other terms are added
- GFOP (Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) which is even better
Still more terms are added
- FTGFOP (Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) and even
- SFTGFOP (Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)
This is a lot to take in and I have to refer back to this information at times. Possibly you will find yourself revisiting our grades of tea page too.
Other articles of interest about tea
Varieties of tea
History of tea
Top of Grades of Tea
From Grades of Tea to Your Cup of Tea home