Why you should care about tea grading.
It is often joked that FTGFOP stands for ‘Far Too Good For Ordinary People’. This gibberish-looking succession of letters actually means ‘Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe’ and is about the finest quality grade of tea you can find.
So, why does it matter? Though graded teas do represent quality, most importantly they are an indication of what taste you expect from a tea when making your selection. The acronyms next to tea names ultimately allude to the flavour and body of the tea that the leaves will produce.
This is not dissimilar from classic black tea blends like English Breakfast or Scottish Breakfast, which are essentially a very good recipe. These classic teas are blended to create flavours and depths for particular palates and expectations of tea drinkers, but are rarely created from premium teas.
High graded teas however, are – quite literally – our top pick. These are the leaves at the very top of the Camellia sinensis tea plant, plucked by hand in the orthodox production tradition. The high-graded varieties are rarely blended and subsequently regarded as single-origin.
‘Tippy’, ‘Golden’, and ‘Flowery’ are descriptors that refer to the tips or buds. The delicate, laborious efforts involved in producing these teas, along with the scarcity of the buds mean that these teas are well sought after.
Our most premium teas, Assam Joonktollee SFTGFOP, Yunnan Finest and China Silver Needles are predominately comprised of the very tips of the tea plant, producing an exquisite and truly unparalleled flavour.
Commonly assumed to be orange flavoured black tea, ‘Orange Pekoe’ in fact means ‘whole leaf tea’. This tea term has an interesting origin. ‘Pekoe’ is thought to come from a mistranslation of a Chinese word referencing the ‘white hairs’ on budded tea tips. ’Orange’ is from the Dutch royal House of Orange-Nassau; a result of the Dutch influence within the tea trade of the 17th century.
So if your preference is the larger leaf variety, ask for an Orange Pekoe when making your next selection. For a robust and full-flavoured brew; look for BOP grade teas. If you prefer your blends without milk and boasting an aromatic aftertaste; try a FOP graded tea. For a real tastebud treat, try one of our SFTGFOP teas… they are truly golden!
SFTGFOP – Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe: The very finest quality grade.
FTGFOP – Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe: Highest quality grade.
FTGFOP1 – Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1: The highest quality Darjeeling grade.
TGFOP – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe: Main grade in Darjeeling and Assam with highest proportion of tip.
GFOP – Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe: Higher proportion of tips than FOP.
FOP – Flowery Orange Pekoe: Whole leaves; higher up on the tea plant
than Orange Pekoe.
OP – Orange Pekoe: Whole leaf grade, consisting of long, wiry leaves without tips.
BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe: Broken leaves.
Tippy – Alludes to the abundance of buds or tips within the tea
Golden – Refers to the golden appearance of tea containing many tips
Flowery – Signifies the delicate buds within the plucked leaves