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The grade of Green and Oolong teas are not specified and are usually whole leaves. The grade of a few of black teas are also not specified and particularly Chinese black teas are named to distinguish quality. For other black tea, the grade is important for it gives two important information of the fineness of the crop and the size of the leaf (whole, broken, and ground).
IIn these grading system, the term “orange” means “royal”, which comes from the name of the Dutch dynasty Orange Nassau. As for the word Pekoe, it comes from the Chinese word Pak-ho meaning “fine hair” or “down” and signifies the end bud that gives an impression of white down because it is not entirely open.
- F.O.P. Flowery Orange Pekoe
It is the finest of all the crops. It is composed of the final bud and two adjacent leaves. If the tea has many buds and have been browned during fermentation, they are sometimes refer to as “golden tips”.
- O.P. Orange Pekoe
Orange Pekoe certifies that the tea comes from a fine pluck. Orange Pekoe are young and tightly rolled leaves. The crop is fine but a little less fine than F.O.P and the bud has already become a leaf.
- P. Pekoe
Pekoe leaves are less fine than the O.P. and does not contain any buds.
- S. Souchong
Souchong leaves have less caffeine and are lower, larger and older. They are often rolled lengthwise and are used for smoked teas.
The leaves are much smaller than the O.P and are not whole. Infusion of broken leaves are much darker and stronger.
- B.O.P. Broken Orange Pekoe
- F.B.O.P. Flowery B.O.P.
- G.B.O.P. Golden B.O.P.
- T.G.B.O.P. Tippy Golden B.O.P.
- F. Fannings
Fannings are the leaves that are reduced to tiny fragments. The infusion is very strong and highly colored.
Mainly used for tea bags and much finer than fannings. Pulverized teas (like Matcha) from larger pieces of leaf are not classified as dust.
- G.F.O.P. Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
If the pluck has been carried out early in the year and the bud has not yet opened, the tea will be F.O.P and if the tips of the buds are golden it becomes G.F.O.P.
- T.G.F.O.P. Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
F.O.P. with many golden buds.
- F.T.G.F.O.P. Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
F.O.P. of exceptional quality.
- S.F.T.G.F.O.P. Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
A grade that is usually reserved for the best Darjeelings from spring, S.F.T.G.F.O.P has the finest and exceptional quality.
A number is sometimes added after the grade to classify, not the fineness of the crop, but the tasting quality of the tea obtained.History of teaTea ceremonies