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
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
TYPES OF TEA
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.