Tea Culture - Leaf Grades

Leaf Grades


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So what do all of those letters mean? Simply, they are a language used to describe the size and appearance of processed tea leaf. Keep in mind that there are no defined standards for grading leaves, only accepted guidelines. Also remember that leaf grade may not be indicative of quality.


OP: Orange Pekoe (Pronounced "peck-o") Orange Pekoe does not refer to flavor, but to the grade of the tea leaves, consisting of large pieces, or even whole leaves. OP leaves are generally about an inch long
FOP: Flowery Orange Pekoe Made from the bud and top leaves of the tea plant
GFOP: Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe An FOP that has golden tips on the buds
TGFOP: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe A higher proportion of golden tips than GFOP
FTGFOP: Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe An extremely high quality tea leaf
SFTGFOP: Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe Simply- the best.
Souchong: Large leaves that are rolled lengthwise
Flowery Pekoe: Leaves rolled into balls
Pekoe:  Shorter leaves than (OP) Orange Pekoe
Fannings: Small particles of tea one grade larger than Dust.
Dust: The smallest grade of tea, typically associated with lower quality. Dust is prized for rapid steeping times and is commonly used in tea bags.
CTC: Acronym for Cut, Tear, and Curl, a machine process which cuts the withered leaves into uniform particles to facilitate a complete oxidation. Typical of most black tea grown in India and other lowland producing countries, and used in teabags to create a stronger, more colorful tea.
Broken Pekoe Souchong: Larger tea leaves than Broken Pekoe
Broken Pekoe: A broken leaf that yields more color in the cup than Broken Pekoe
Souchong Broken Orange Pekoe: A smaller leaf size that yields good color and strength

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