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 Vocabulary of Tea 


Leaf Grades - Orthodox

After the broken grades have been sifted out, what remains are the large leaves. In brewing, flavor and colour come out of leaf grades more slowly than out of broken grades. Leaf grades are popular in continental Europe and in South America. There are three kinds:

Orange Pekoe has long, thin, wiry leaves that sometimes contain bud leaf. They make a light- or pale-colored liquid. Orange pekoe has come to simply signify a size; the term does not indicate flavor or quality.

Pekoe has shorter leaves than orange pekoe, and they are not as wiry. The liquid generally has more color.

Souchong has round leaves that make a pale liquid. 

Broken Grades - CTC

The smaller leaf pieces of the broken grades make up about 80 percent of the total crop. They create a darker, stronger tea than leaf grades and are the only kind used in tea bags. Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) is much smaller than the leaf grades. It usually contains bud leaf, the mainstay of a blend. Broken Pekoe is slightly larger than BOP, with somewhat less color. It is useful as filler in a blend. Fannings are much smaller than broken pekoe Souchong. Its main virtues are quick brewing and good color. Dust is the smallest grade, useful for a quick-brewing, strong cup of tea. It is only used in blends of similar-size leaf, generally for catering purposes.




OP-Orange Pekoe

PS-Pekoe Souchong

BOP-Broken Orange Pekoe 

FOP-Flowery Orange Pekoe

FBOP-Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe

GFOP-Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe

GFBOP-Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe

TGFOP-Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 

FTGFOP-Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 

SFTGFOP-Silver (Super) Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe


There are currently six basic categories of tea: WHITE, YELLOW, GREEN, OOLONG, BLACK, AND PU-ERH.

WHITE AND YELLOW TEAS: They are very rare, delicate, and only very lightly and gently processed. They are lightly steamed, sun-dried or pan-fried in large steel pans, something like huge woks. The leaves are moved about in a circular motion by hand to insure evenness in drying and uniformity in color. They brew pale liquor, which is delicate in flavor.

GREEN TEAS: They are not steamed, but dried without being permitted to oxidize. Thus, they maintain their green color. They are generally not graded into leaf sizes. However, a few different types of green and oolong tea are differentiated by the method of processing.

OOLONGS: They are fired for longer periods, resulting in a highly fragrant and distinctive leaf. The word Oolong "means" black dragon and the tea is a whole-leaf tea, which is only partially fermented. This gives it a delicate, twisted leaf appearance that is usually greenish-brown. The most prized oolongs are named for Ti Kwan Yin, the Iron Goddess of Chinese legend. The most sought after of the Iron Goddess oolongs are therefore jet black in appearance, (like Iron). 

BLACK TEAS: They are often called Red Teas in China since they brew up a distinctively reddish brew, are the most common teas brewed in most of the world, except China, Taiwan, and Japan. 

PU-ERH: It is aged Chinese teas. They have a distinctive musty smell that reflects the bacteria found in them. Often referred to as Chinese penicillin, Pu-Erh is considered beneficial as a digestive, and healthful, especially as a grease cutter. It can be reddish in color but it is most often brown to black and brews up a dark rich liquor.


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