‘T’ is for Tea: What all the acronyms in tea grades mean

Another occasional unrelated to (herbal) tea article 😀 This time is about acronyms / jargon used in caffeine tea world. Not hurt to swipe your eyes through the list quickly.

Ever wondered what all the different letters of the alphabet in your tea packaging stand for?

These acronyms are ‘grading terms’ to give extra information about the tea. The grades give vital information about the quality of the tea leaf and can be a helpful guide when buying teas. The quality of the tea leaves is graded based on size, shape and wholesomeness of the leaves. Although it is not the only indicator, it is a good guide to help buyers understand what they can expect from the tea including strength, taste and aroma. 

The grading system

OP: Orange Pekoe
FOP: Flowery Orange Pekoe
GFOP: Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
TGFOP: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
TGFOP 1: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe One
FTGFOP: Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
FTGFOP 1: Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe One
SFTGFOP: Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 

Understanding the terms

ORANGE PEKOE – is the tea industry’s term for describing the quality of tea leaves. The word is derived from the Dutch word ‘oranje’ (royal) and ‘pak-ho’ (Chinese for white) or the colour of the fine young shoots. 

TIPPY – signifies the abundance of young buds. 

GOLDEN – refers to the gold hues in the tea leaves 

FINEST TIPPY GOLDEN – signifies that the tea has a high concentration of light-coloured tips. As a rule, the tips of the tea plant are the lightest shade because of the absence of sap. 

FLOWERY – indicates the tender delicate buds picked with the tea.

The Number 1 at the end of the classification – refers to the delicate operation used to pick the tea: usually 1 bud to 2 leaves. Coarser leaves are left behind on the plant. 

Applying it to organic Darjeeling Tea

The highest quality of Darjeeling Tea is FTGFOP1 or Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1.

It refers to tea that has been carefully produced from even-sized leaves and tender tips. 

FTGFOP1 is only used to categorise whole leaf teas that are not crushed. It is the highest quality of the Darjeeling Tea family and therefore will have the most delicate taste and flavour. 

Credit: teacampaign.com.au

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