tea estate

Tea Grades

Different Grades of Tea

Generally we are talking about leaf teas and broken teas. The small-leafed broken teas, which are cut during the repeated rolling process, are naturally very high yielding. The names of the grades  very often have very imaginative names and vary from tea estate to tea estate. They are always referring to the leaf size and optic and mostly do not take the taste into consideration (e.g. flowery). But, they will never give you any clue about the general quality of the tea. The quality of the tea is always made during the tasting.

Here are the most important grades for:

a) Leaf Tea

1. Flowery Orange Pekoe = FOP

In Darjeeling you will also find names like  Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe = GFOP and Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe = TGFOP. This refers to a thin, wiry leaf with tips (buds). Tips are the golden or silver-coloured, visible leaf tips, which contain less tannin and therefore do not darken during the fermentation. They are proof that young tealeaves were used; however this does not necessarily mean that they are of exceptional quality.

2. Orange Pekoe = OP

A long, wiry leaf, larger than the FOP. The meaning of the term is unknown. Orange refers to the Dutch “Oranje”, which means “royal”. It does not mean that the tea is orange or tastes of oranges!

3. Pekoe = P and Flowery Pekoe = FP

This leaf is shorter and larger than the Orange Pekoe, often also more open and not as finely rolled. Ceylon “low-grown” Pekoes have a ball-shaped leaf. Pekoes are stronger in the infusion than the Orange Pekoe, because the latter contains more leaf ribs and less “flesh”.

b) Broken Tea

1a. Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe = FBOP

This grade refers to the larger and very aromatic qualities of the small-leafed teas. A well-structured, well-rolled leaf with many tips, which yield an attractive appearance.

1b. Golden Broken Orange Pekoe = GBOP

A very fine and strong tea, especially with respect to Assam.

2a. Broken Orange Pekoe = BOP

A well-structured leaf, which has fewer, tips than the FBOP, but is stronger and less flowery.

2b. Broken Orange Pekoe 1 = BOP 1

On some plantations in India, this is the explanation for the FBOP, in Ceylon it is, however, a “semi-leaf tea”, a grade, which is between the OP and the BOP.

3. Broken Pekoe =BP

With respect to the CTC method, BP is a grade, which yields a very strong cup.

4. Fannings and Dust

The smallest parts of the leaf, without the stem of ribs, which are collected during the sieving. Fannings and Dust are high yielding, strong, colour the cup quickly and, hence, are preferred for use in tea bags.


SFTGFOP – S (Super) F (Finest) T (Tippy) G (Golden) F (Flowery) O (Orange) P (Pekoe)- large leaf
FP – F (Flowery) P (Pekoe) – small leaf
GFBOP – G (Golden) (Flowery) B (Broken) O (Orange) P (Pekoe) – fine broken
 (Broken) O (Orange) P (Pekoe) F (Fannings) – fannings
CTC – C (Crushing) (Tearing) C (Curling) – round leaf


Grade of Leaf Teas

Grade Description
Orange Pekoe
Main grade, consisting of long wiry leaf without tips.  Example: Ceylon OP Highgrown
More delicate than OP; long, wiry leaf with a light liquor.
Bolder than OP; long leaf tea which ranges from tightly wound to almost open.
Orange Pekoe Superior
Primarily from Indonesia; similar to 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.
Limited to only the highest quality leaves in the FOP classification.
Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Higher proportion of tip than FOP. Top grade in the Milima and Marinyn regions, but uncommon in Assam and Darjeeling.
Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
The highest proportion of tip, and the main grade in Darjeeling and Assam.
Limited to only the highest quality leaves in the TGFOP classification. Example: Isle of Skye Tea
Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Highest quality grade. Example: Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP,
Limited to only the highest quality leaves in the FTGFOP classification. Example: Darjeeling Bannockburn FTGFOP1, Organic Nilgiri SFTGFOP1 Thiashola, Darjeeling Namring FTGFOP1


Grade of Broken Teas

Grade Description
Broken Tea
Usually a black, open, fleshy leaf that is very bulky. This classification is used in Sumatra, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and some parts of Southern India.
Broken Pekoe
The most common broken pekoe grade; from Indonesia, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Assam and Southern India.
Broken Pekoe Souchong
Term for broken pekoe in the Assam and Darjeeling regions.
Flowery Pekoe
High-quality pekoe. Usually coarser with a fleshier, broken leaf. Produced in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Southern India, as well as in some parts of Kenya.
Broken Orange Pekoe
Main broken grade. Prevalent in Assam, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Southern India, Java, and China. Example: Assam BOP Bukhial
Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe
Coarser and broken with some tips. From Assam, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Indonesia, China, and Bangladesh.
Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings
The finest broken orange pekoe, with a higher proportion of tips; mainly from Ceylon’s “low districts”.
Golden Broken Orange Pekoe
Second grade tea with uneven leaves and few tips.
Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1
As above, but with only the highest quality leaves in the GFBOP classification.
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.



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