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Today I decided to dig into the Assam Orange Pekoe black tea a co-worker had brought back from India. The tea had been sitting on my desk for several weeks, but for some reason I did not get around to brewing it until today.

Knowing that a different co-worker was also a lover of tea, I asked if she was interested in partaking of this personally blended tea. She was interested, so I brewed two cups. I brewed the first cup – my co-worker’s – for about four minutes with 1 1/4 tablespoons of tea. She said the tea was excellent and not too weak. While I steeped mine for 20 seconds shy of four minutes, and found it a little on the weak side. The tea is extremely fresh and of very good quality.

Orange pekoe as you may know is a grade of black tea. For a full list of grade terminologies, please see below.

Grade terminology

Choppy – Tea that contains many leaves of various sizes.
Fannings – Small particles of tea leaves used almost exclusively in tea bags A grade higher than Dust.
Flowery – A large leaf, typically plucked in the second or third flush with an abundance of tips.
Golden Flowery – Tea that includes very young tips or buds (usually golden in colour) that were picked early in the season.
Tippy – Tea that includes an abundance of tips.

Whole leaf grades
The grades for whole leaf orthodox black tea (in ascending order) are:
OP – Orange Pekoe – Main grade in tea production. Can consist of long wiry leaf without tips.
OP sup – Orange Pekoe Superior – Primarily from Indonesia. Similar to OP.
F OP – Flowery Orange Pekoe – High-quality tea with a long leaf and few tips. Considered the second grade in Assam, Dooars, and Bangladesh teas, but the first grade in China
F OP1 – Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves – As above but with only the highest quality leaves in the F.O.P classification
GF OP1 – Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves- Higher proportion of tip than FOP Top grade in Milima and Marinyn regions; Uncommon in Assam and Darjeeling.
TGF OP – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe – Tea with the highest proportion of tip; Main grade in Darjeeling and Assam.
TGF OP1 – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe – As above, but with only the highest quality leave in the T.G.F.O.P classification
FTGF OP – Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe – Highest quality grade. Often hand processed and produced at only the best plantations. Roughly one quarter tips.

Broken leaf grades
BT – Broken Tea – Usually a black, open, fleshy leaf that is very bulky. Classification used in Sumatra, Sri Lanka, and some parts of Southern India.
BP – Broken Pekoe- Most common broken pekoe grade. From Indonesia, Ceylon, and Southern India.
BPS – Broken Pekoe Souchong – Term for broken pekoe in Assam and Darjeeling.
FP – Flowery Pekoe – High-quality pekoe. Usually coarser with a fleshier, broken leaf. Produced in Ceylon and Southern India, as well as in some parts of Kenya.
BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe – Main broken grade. Prevalent in Ceylon, Southern India, Java, and China.
F BOP – Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe – Coarser and broken with some tips. From Assam, Ceylon, Indonesia, China, and Bangladesh. In South America coarser, black broken.
F BOP F – Finest Broken Orange Pekoe Flowery – The finest broken orange pekoe. Higher proportion of tips. Mainly from Ceylon’s “low districts”.
G BOP – Golden Broken Orange Pekoe – Second grade tea with uneven leaves and few tips.
GF BOP1 – Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1 – As above, but with only the highest quality leaves in the GFBOP classification.
TGF BOP1 – Tippy Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1 – High-quality leaves with a high proportion of tips. Finest broken First Grade Leaves in Darjeeling and some parts of Assam.

Fannings grades
PF – Pekoe Fannings –
OF – Orange Fannings – From Northern India and some parts of Africa and South America.
FOF – Flowery Orange Fannings – Common in Assam, Dooars, and Bangladesh. Some leaf sizes come close to the smaller broken grades.
GFOF – Golden Flowery Orange Fannings- Finest grade in Darjeeling for tea bag production.
TGFOF – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Fannings.
BOPF – Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings – Main grade in Ceylon, Indonesia, Southern India, Kenya, Mozambique, Bangladesh, and China. Black-leaf tea with few added ingredients, uniform particle size, and no tips.

Dust grades
D1 – Dust 1 – From Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, Africa, South America, and Southern India.
PD – Pekoe Dust
PD1 – Pekoe Dust 1 – Mainly produced in India.

Source: Wikipedia entry on “orange pekoe”

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