When the word orthodox tea comes to our mind, it essentially means that the tea is either hand-processed or it is rolled using machinery that mimics the hand-rolling process. Most of the premium quality tea is made following the orthodox production methods. All whole leaf tea is made with orthodox production method.
You might come across teas with labels like 'handmade tea,' 'hand-processed tea,' or 'rolled tea.'
The Steps Involved in Processing Orthodox Tea
- This step involves spreading the leaves and leaving it for 14-20 hours to allow the moisture to evaporate.
- The leaves are rotated and pressed to release the inherit chemicals, thereby preparing for oxidation.
- The leaves are allowed to rest for 2-4 hours in a controlled setting, enabling the air to react with the chemicals. During this method, the leaves turn darker.
- This step involves using a heater to arrest oxidation and dehydrate the leaves before they are sorted for grading.
The opposite of orthodox tea is CTC tea (Crush, Tear, Chop), which is completely machine-processed. It chops the leaves into uniformly-sized pieces that are commonly used for low-grade teabags.
Orthodox vs.CTC Teas: Which One to Tap On?
Orthodox tea is typically known for having the brisk, bright, and multi-layered characteristic. They are assumed to be more nuanced and convoluted than CTC teas. Orthodox loose leaf teas
are perfect when enjoyed on their own with a tinge of lemon or a sweetener. Many Ceylon teas (a type of Sri Lankan tea) are orthodox Teas.
CTC teas, on the other hand, are stronger and includes bitter notes. Owing to their strong and bitter trait, the teas are mixed with milk or other additives to neutralize the bitterness. The milk tea popularly made with Assam tea leaves
is the perfect example and the most popular is the masala chai.
Grades of Orthodox Teas
The grading of orthodox loose leaf tea
is done based on factors like the region, leaf twist, manufacturing technique, and sometimes the timing of the pluck. There's a complicated system linked with grading teas and the abbreviations have common components.
If you don't see the word 'orthodox' on a tea box, but notice one of these terms mentioned below, then it is likely a whole leaf orthodox tea. The list is ordered from highest to lowest quality.
FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe)
- Only the two best tea leaf tips are used. It's a masterpiece of India.
GFOP (Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)
- The golden hue is observed on the tips of these leaves.
FTGFOP (Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)
- Better quality than
TGFOP but with more tips than FOP.
TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)
- FOP with more tips.
OP (Orange Pekoe)
- A tightly curled, strong leaf picked later in the year than FOP.
- Used for smokey Chinese tea with bent leaves from the bottom of the tea plant.
There are additional tea grades that refer to 'broken leaf' teas. These include B (broken), P (Pekoe), F (fannings), and D (dust). These are primarily used with CTC teas.
The grading primarily associated with black teas. Green and oolong teas are not graded.
Benefits of Orthodox Tea
Apart from the previously mentioned information, here are some amazing benefits of orthodox tea
which take you a step closer to a healthier lifestyle.