Tea Grading System

You've seen FTGFOP, BOP, CTC on labels of tea.
.What do these codes mean?
.These codes are used to classify single estate teas such as Darjeeling, Ceylon, and Assam.

At the end of a tealeaf makeing process, a machine will separate the tealeaves according to their type, size, and categorize them into different grades.

Letters like P: Pekoe, O: Orange, B: Broken, etc, are connected to indicate the different grades of the black tea.

.Here is a summary of the most commonly used codes:

OP: Orange Pekoe
Usually refers to relatively longer and complete tealeaf.BOP: Broken Orange Pekoe
Refers to broken orange pekoe. They make a stronger brew than OP, so they are more suitable to make milk tea.


FOP: Flowery Orange Pekoe
Refers to tealeaves that have buds, which would create a floral fragrance in the tea.

.FBOP: Flower Broken Orange Pekoe
Contains both buds and broken tea leaves. Makes a stronger tea with floral fragrance.


TGFOP: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Contains young buds, which appear golden. Makes a much more fragrant and strong tea than FOP.

.FTGFOP: Fine(est) Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Very high quality tea that went through an extra procedure of rolling, which would draw out the best flavour in tea.

.SFTGFOP: S stands for Super or Special. The meaning is obvious.


CTC: Crush, Tear, Curl
These teas are compressed into small pieces by a special machine. CTC leaves make a very strong brew in short amount of time. It is ideal for consuming with milk.

.Others: Fanning, Dust
Refers to very small pieces of tealeaves. Usually used in India to make Chai or milk tea.

Sometimes, there is a "1" at the end of a tea name, such as FOP1 or FTGFOP1. It means the first grade of that particular tea: FOP1 means the first grade of that FOP.
.The number of letters, however, does not necessarily mean the quality of tea.

Some people prefer BOP instead of FTGFOP becuase BOP makes stronger tea, which is suitable for consuming with milk.

.Tom H.

is a tea lover and the founder of O-Square Tea Company. Please visit http://www.osquaretea.com for more information.

By: Tom Huang

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