Tea manufacturing is a delicate and an intricate process indeed. Those who have not witnessed it by their own eyes will not clearly understand it. In many articles we read about tea processing but that fives only basic knowledge. The reality is something different. Tea Grades – Something You should Know Rolling and drying are two of the processes involved in tea manufacturing. Now, there is another stage after these two. Can you say what is it? It is called “grading of the tea leaves”. Have you ever seen finished leaves? If you have, you must have observed that ‘finished’ Indian tea consists of different sizes of leaf pieces. Now, brewing speed of small pieces is different from that of the large ones. Therefore, it is necessary to sort out the different pieces to have a cup of evenly brewed tea. Grading and classifying the varied sizes of leaves then takes place. They are divided into –
  • Broken leaf grades consisting of the small pieces
  • Leaf grades consisting of larger leaf pieces
Let us understand the diverse leaf grades so that you can choose tea properly.
  • OP – Orange Pekoe
Consist of large leaves than the second grade, FOP. It rarely has the tip, delicate end of leaf buds, essential for fine blends.
  • FOP – Flowery Orange Pekoe
Tea containing two leaves from the shoot and a bud. This blend has the right tip and tender young leaves.   
  • GFOP – Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
This is quite similar to FOP. Only thing they have are golden yellow buds.
  • TGFOP – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
This is again similar to GFOP but comprises of higher proportion of the tips.
  • FTGFOP – Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
It is same as the previous grade except that it is of the highest quality. Are you confused with the term “orange”? Well, this is not the color of tea leaf. This name is derived from House of Orange, the historic royal family of Holland, who have exported and imported this beverage. But now, it only denotes high quality blend. It implies that blends described as Flowery Orange Pekoe are of better quality than Flowery Pekoe. Similar distinctions are found in broken leaf grades. Lastly, fanning refers to the smallest leaf pieces. Since they are small, their brewing speed is very fast and so, they are commonly used in tea bags. They are commonly termed as tea dust. So, now you have a clear idea of the different tea grades. Isn’t it?