What does it mean? TEA GRADES

Ever wonder what that, 'alphabet soup' at the end of the name of a tea means? Here is a guide to help you better understand the meaning of the grade when buying and talking about tea.

  • 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 color) 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 (Note: "Special" is occasionally substituted for "Finest", with a number 1 at the end to indicate the very finest) . Often hand processed and produced at only the best plantations. Roughly one quarter tips.
  • SFTGFOP(1) - Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe is sometimes used to indicate the very finest.

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.