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TEA GRADING



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Tea grading and types is a process used to evaluate and classify tea leaves based on various factors such as leaf size, appearance, aroma, flavor, and sometimes origin. The grading system can vary depending on the type of tea and the region where it's produced, but here's a general overview of how tea is typically graded:

  1. Leaf Size: One of the primary factors in tea grading is the size of the tea leaves. This can range from large whole leaves to smaller broken leaves or even finer particles. The size of the leaves can affect the flavor and strength of the brewed tea.

  2. Appearance: The appearance of the tea leaves, including their color, shape, and uniformity, is also important in grading. Tea leaves are often visually inspected for qualities such as color consistency, presence of tips (bud-like structures), and overall cleanliness.

  3. Aroma: The aroma of the dry tea leaves and the brewed tea is another crucial aspect of grading. Teas with a strong, pleasant aroma are often considered higher quality.

  4. Flavor: The flavor profile of the brewed tea is perhaps the most critical factor in grading. Teas are evaluated based on their taste, complexity, balance, and aftertaste. Factors such as sweetness, bitterness, astringency, and fragrance contribute to the overall flavor profile.

  5. Origin: In some cases, the region where the tea is grown and processed can influence its grade. Certain tea-growing regions are renowned for producing teas of exceptional quality, and teas from these regions may command higher grades.

  6. Processing: The method of processing the tea leaves, including factors such as oxidation (for black tea), roasting (for oolong tea), or steaming (for green tea), can also impact the grade of the tea.

Tea grading systems can be highly complex and vary significantly between different tea-producing regions, such as China, India, Sri Lanka, and Japan. Each region may have its own unique grading standards and terminology. Additionally, some tea producers and sellers use proprietary grading systems to classify their teas based on specific criteria.


Based on the information above, here are some common grades used for different types of tea:

  1. Black Tea:

  • OP (Orange Pekoe): This grade often denotes whole leaf black tea with a slightly wiry appearance. Contrary to what the name might suggest, "Orange Pekoe" doesn't refer to orange flavor but rather to a specific grade of leaf.

  • BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe): This grade consists of broken tea leaves, which can brew stronger and faster than whole leaf teas.

  • FBOP (Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe): Similar to BOP but with a higher proportion of tips or buds, which can enhance flavor and aroma.

  • FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe): Similar to OP but with more tips, resulting in a lighter and more aromatic brew.

  • FTGFOP (Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe): This grade indicates a high-quality black tea with a high proportion of golden tips, resulting in a rich and flavorful brew.

  1. Green Tea:

  • Gunpowder: This grade refers to tightly rolled green tea leaves that resemble small pellets, which can unfurl during brewing.

  • Sencha: A common grade of Japanese green tea, characterized by its long, flat leaves and fresh, grassy flavor.

  • Dragonwell (Longjing): A premium grade of Chinese green tea with flat, jade-green leaves and a subtly sweet flavor.

  1. Oolong Tea:

  • TGY (Tie Guan Yin): This grade refers to a type of oolong tea produced in Fujian Province, China, known for its floral aroma and smooth, fruity flavor.

  • Dong Ding: Another popular grade of oolong tea, typically from Taiwan, known for its creamy texture and sweet, floral notes.

  1. White Tea:

  • Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen): This grade consists of young tea buds covered in silvery-white hairs, resulting in a delicate and sweet brew.

  • White Peony (Bai Mudan): A grade of white tea made from young tea buds and leaves, resulting in a slightly stronger flavor than Silver Needle.

  1. Pu-erh Tea:

  • Raw/Sheng Pu-erh: This grade refers to pu-erh tea that undergoes minimal processing and can age over time, developing complex flavors.

  • Ripe/Shou Pu-erh: This grade refers to pu-erh tea that undergoes accelerated fermentation to mimic the aging process, resulting in a smooth, earthy flavor.


There is certainly a lot that goes into the grading of tea leaves. But this is the simple basics of how it's done.



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