Whether we are stressed out, tired, having a bad day or celebrating good news- a cup of tea is all we need to cope up with different colours of emotions. Only a tea lover or a tea connoisseur will know the joy of sipping a great cup of tea as it not only relaxes our mind but our body muscles as well.
But, are you sure that the tea you are consuming is made from premium quality tea leaves? Most probably you will say no and this is the answer most of the people will give. This is because most of us as laymen drink tea without knowing or caring about the quality, and the reason is the concept on the whole lies outside our expertise and therefore our knowledge. But, if you ask any tea expert, he or she will tell you that leaves are generally divided into four major grades- Whole Leaf, Broken Leaf, Fannings Tea and Dust Tea.
In this blog, let’s dive deep into each category of tea and gather information about them.
But first, what is Tea Grading?
Tea grading is the method which marks the quality of the tea leaves. The grade reflects the caffeine content in a particular tea leaf. Maximum information catering to the grading system of tea depends on the leaf size. However, there are times when the tea leaf size might not justify the quality or grade of a particular tea leaf. For example, the whole-leaf tea is usually manifested as an eminent quality and expensive tea grade. However, some broken-leaf teas can be unexpectedly outstanding which can even exceed the quality of whole leaf tea. With that being said, let us gather information about the different tea grades to understand the tea quality we are consuming.
A Dive into Different Tea Grades
We will start with the highest quality of tea grade and gradually proceed onto the lower grades, thereby educating the tea lovers about the different grades of tea on a general note.
Whole leaf tea
Whole leaf tea implies that the tea leaves have not been broken or ripped during production. The size and appearance of the tea leaves entirely depend on the method and extent of processing the leaves. The tea leaves falling under this grade is considered to be of a premium quality which is further divided into 11 grades. The subcategories of whole leaf tea are:
OP: OP or Orange Pekoe is considered to be the main grade of whole leaf tea. Under this section, the tea leaves are long and wiry without the presence of tips.
OP1: Considered to be more delicate than the OP type, the leaves under thus sub-category is long and wiry which produces a light liquor.
OPA: Unlike the OP1 and OP, the OPA version is a stronger tea leaf which ranges from tightly folded to almost open.
OPS: Orange Pekoe Superior, originating from Indonesia is similar to that of OP leaves.
FOP: Flowery Orange Pekoe is a high-quality tea with long tea leaves and few tips. It takes the position of a first-grade tea in China and the second-grade tea in Assam, Dooars, and Bangladesh.
FOP1: This type is limited to the premium quality leaves under the FOP of sub-category.
GFOP: Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe consists of a higher proportion of tips than FOP and is considered to be the top-notch grade in Milima and Marinyn regions.
TGFOP: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe is bestowed with the highest proportion of tip and is the chief grade in Darjeeling along with Assam.
TGFOP1: It is the highest quality tea leaves in the TGFOP classification.
FTGFOP: Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe is the premium quality tea grade under this section.
FTGFOP1, STGFOP & SFTGFOP: Caters to the highest quality leaves in the FTGFOP classification.
Broken-leaf tea is the type that is torn or broken, but the pieces are still large enough to be recognized as pieces of leaves. This grade is further broken into 10 subcategories mentioned below.
BT: Broken Tea grade leaves are dark or black and open with a fleshy leaf texture which are bulky.
BP: Broken Pekoe is the most common type under the broken pekoe category originating from Indonesia, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Assam and Southern India.
BPS: Broken Pekoe Souchong is a term for broken pekoe used in the Assam and Darjeeling.
FP: Flowery Pekoe is a top-notch pekoe. Such tea leaves are usually rougher with fleshier broken leaf. They are generally produced in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Southern India and some parts of Kenya.
BOP: Broken Orange Pekoe is the chief broken grade tea leaf widely available in Assam, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Southern India, Java, and China.
FBOP: Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe comes with tea leaves having a rough and broken texture along with some tips.
FBOPF: Finest Broken Orange Pekoe Flowery is the finest form of broken orange pekoe having a higher proportion of tips. They mainly come from the lower districts of Ceylon.
GBOP: Golden Broken Orange Pekoe is the second-grade broken tea leaves with uneven texture and few tips.
GFBOP1: Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1 consists of highest quality leaves in the GFBOP group.
TGF BOP1: Tippy Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1 consists of premium quality leaves with a high proportion of tips. It is the finest quality broken first-grade leaves in Darjeeling and selective parts of Assam.
Fannings Tea Grade
Fannings are finely crushed pieces of tea leaves that have a recognizable coarse texture commonly used in tea bags. Fanning tea is divided into few categories as well, which are stated below.
PF: Pekoe Fannings
OF: Orange Fannings found in Northern India, some parts of Africa and South America.
FOF: Flowery Orange Fannings popular in Assam, Dooars, and Bangladesh.
GFOF: Golden Flowery Orange Fannings are the finest grade in Darjeeling for tea bag production.
TGFOF: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Fannings
BOPF: Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings consists of black tea leaves with few added ingredients, uniform particle size, and no tips.
Dust Tea Grade
The dust has a finer texture than the fannings. It is made from the leftovers of the tea particles coming from the higher grades of tea. However, tea made by grinding larger pieces of tea leaves such as Matcha is not classified as dust.
Below are the subcategories of dust tea leaves:
OPD - Orange Pekoe Dust
BOPD - Broken Orange Pekoe Dust
BOPFD - Broken Orange Pekoe Fine Dust
FD - Fine Dust
DA - Dust A
Spl. D - Special Dust
GD - Golden Dust
OD - Orthodox Dust
Those are the different grades of tea leaf with subcategories in each section. Did you even think that the tea you are drinking on a regular basis can be divided into so many categories? No matter which tea grade you're consuming, in our opinion each grade has the power to calm our mind and infuse our body with numerous health benefits.
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