Tea Leaf Grading
We have been asked if we can clarify the mysterious abbreviations such as FBOP or TGFOP. So here goes, there are different grade systems for black and green teas, and these systems then vary by country, it's easy to get confused…
Black Tea Grades
The important thing to remember about Black Tea Grading is these tea terms do not come from the flavour of the tea but the size of the leaves. Whole leaves being harder to produce and having a better visual appeal, demanding a higher price and better grade.
These are divided into groups of whole leaves, broken leaves, fannings and dust. Common abbreviations of these include and in order of status:
OP – Orange Pekoe: Nothing to do with oranges, but it refers to whole leaves, ideally of uniform size and rolled lengthwise.
P – Pekoe: Whole leaf as above but missing only the tips.
BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe: Pieces of leaves that are relatively large and square in shape.
PF – Pekoe Fanning: Small and irregular pieces of leaves.
F – Fanning: Very small shreds of leaves, used in commercial tea bags.
D – Dust: Tea powder.
Combine these with the following:
F – Flowery: Loosely rolled tea that includes gold tinged buds.
T – Tippy: An abundance of buds.
G – Golden: A golden tint in both the buds and tips of leaves.
I – Imperial: Used with BOP to indicate much larger than normal pieces of leaves.
Example: TGFOP = Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe = a grade of black tea, numbers can then be added to distinguish between different teas of the same grade!!
Green Tea Grades
Green Tea grading is more subtle and varies between country of origin and down to different regions. Here the grades are more focused on the origins, taste, quality and flushing (picking).
Grades primarily by style and quality, common types include, from best to least:
Graded according to the age of the leaf and the finished shape and size, common grades:
Within these grades are sub-grades, Pinhead Gunpowder, whose tightly rolled leaves form much small pellets than normal Gunpowder. They then add quality rankings such as extra, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and fancy.
Similar to China by style and size of leaf:
Fine Young Hyson
Hyson No. 1
Grading green and oolong teas from best to least:
We hope this helps a little, with this basic information you should be a smarter and more discriminating tea consumer!!
Tea being weighed just after collection.