I remember years ago, I always bought Orange Pekoe tea, as I thought that it was an orange flavoured tea. I have since learnt that it is not a tea with a citrus component, in fact related to the size of the leaf. In the early 1900's, most of the tea produced in India was black tea. And so the British introduced a grading system based on the appearance of the leaves.
Teas are broken down into different grades, depending on the production process. This system is typically used for black loose leaf teas, while green white and herbal loose leaves are graded under different criteria. But why is it important? It is all related to the quality and taste of the leaves.
The Orange Pekoe grading system has many different terms, but it boils down to the size of the tea leaf, how it looks, and whether it is broken or whole. The higher grades of tea are harvested from the very top bud in a tea shrub. The lower grades are harvested from the lower, larger leaves. Once the rolling, oxidation and firing has been completed, sorting is commenced. Leaves can be classified as either whole or broken.
Orange Pekoe (OP) refers to the grading denoting whole leaf tea. This does not mean it has the whole leaf appearance as it does on the bush, but are long, thin tightly rolled leaves.
'Tippy’, ‘Golden’, and ‘Flowery’ are descriptions applied to the tips or buds.
The leaves at the very top of the tea plant are referred to as ‘tips’ while those leaves that haven’t fully blossomed are ‘downy tips’ or ‘buds’. They are the highest and sweetest part of the plant.
Tippy (T) – Alludes to the abundance of buds or tips within the tea
Golden (G) – Refers to the golden appearance of tea containing many tips
Flowery (F) – Signifies the delicate buds within the plucked leaves.
Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP) are longer leaves than OP, but not as tightly rolled.
Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (GFOP) is FOP with some golden tips.
Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (TFGOP) is GFOP with more golden tips.
Harriet's English Breakfast Morning Tea is classified as TGFOP1. This means that it is a whole leaf tea, with a high number of buds and tips. The number one means that the tea has the highest quality leaves found in the TGFOP classification.
Are you feeling confused by all these different letters? Me too! But don't be, because this is all you need to know. When sipping your morning cup of my English Breakfast, you will be enjoying a wonderful high quality, aromatic tea ...minus the orange flavour! 🧡🫖🧡