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Tea Grading

tea leaves grading

Tea grading is a process the tea industry uses to evaluate the leaf style of individual tea types.  These acronyms usually follow a tea's name and are helpful as they provide information about the tea's characteristics that one can use to identify teas that you are likely to prefer. 

There are four categories; Whole Leaf, Broken Leaf, Fannings and Dust.  The chart below identifies whole and broken leaf grades.  Leaf size that is smaller than BOP is graded as fannings. This grade is primarily used in tea bags since it is small and steeps quickly; dust grade is finer still.

Whole Leaf Grade

Grade Description
OP
Orange Pekoe
Main grade, consisting of long wiry leaf without tips.
OP1
More delicate than OP; long, wiry leaf with a light liquor.
OPA
Bolder than OP; long leaf tea which ranges from tightly wound to almost open.
OPS
Orange Pekoe Superior
Primarily from Indonesia; similar to OP.
FOP
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.
FOP1
Limited to only the highest quality leaves in the FOP classification.
GFOP
Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Higher proportion of tip than FOP. Top grade in the Milima and Marinyn regions, but uncommon in Assam and Darjeeling.
TGFOP
Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
The highest proportion of tip, and the main grade in Darjeeling and Assam.
TGFOP1
Limited to only the highest quality leaves in the TGFOP classification.
FTGFOP
Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Highest quality grade.
FTGFOP1
STGFOP
SFTGFOP
Limited to only the highest quality leaves in the FTGFOP classification.

Broken Leaf Grades

Grade

Description

BT
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.
BP
Broken Pekoe
The most common broken pekoe grade; from Indonesia, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Assam and Southern India.
BPS
Broken Pekoe Souchong
Term for broken pekoe in the Assam and Darjeeling regions.
FP
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.
BOP
Broken Orange Pekoe
Main broken grade. Prevalent in Assam, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Southern India, Java, and China.

 

 FBOP

Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe
Coarser and broken with some tips. From Assam, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Indonesia, China, and Bangladesh. In South America, coarser, black broken.
F BOP F
Finest Broken Orange Pekoe Flowery
The finest broken orange pekoe, with a 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.