a funny name
In the supermarket or your local teashop, you probably have come across a name on the tea tin: Orange Pekoe. Maybe you have bought one and tried it. There is no orange in it 1. Nor is the colour of that name. So why that name?
If you Google it, there may be various answers. The fact is, it is a grade name for black tea. Indeed, the whole set of names with which the West grades black tea begins with it. Here are some of the most commonly used grade names in the trade, in ascending order of traditional Western quality definition:
- Orange Pekoe ( OP )
- Flowery Orange Pekoe ( FOP )
- Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe ( GFOP )
- Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe ( TGFOP )
- Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe ( FTGFOP )
- Super Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe ( SFTGFOP )
The concept of this grading system is largely based on leaf appearance — whether there are tips, hairy tips, or a lot of hairy tips, or if the leaves are finely rolled/curled.
Other quality parameter are examined by the tasters. These specialists determine what the tea actually should cost, and whether it is a product they want.
A key thing to understand is that although this system was originally devised to describe hand-crafted tealeaves, it is now mostly employed for mechanically made products.
Perhaps you should also be aware that while the name Orange Pekoe is on a tin, many such labelled products is actually Broken Orange Pekoe ( BOP ), i.e. a grade of larger debris sieved from the conveyor belt carrying mechanically produced tea leaf products.