Orange Pekoe, SFTGFOP1, BOP, etc... What do these mean anyway?
Due to a lack of information on the subject, there is great confusion over one of the simplest of tea terms, OP (Orange Pekoe). Contrary to popular opinion, Orange Pekoe does not refer to a particular flavor, or even to a specific variety or quality or tea. Orange Pekoe is nothing more than a designation of leaf size.
As a result of the manufacturing process, the final product is comprised of leaf particles of varying sizes. Because the finer particles steep quickly, the tea is sifted into lots of uniform leaf size. Teas designated OP are comprised of larger leaf particles or whole leaves that will not pass through a sieve of a particular gauge. BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) designates a grade that is finer than OP. Grades finer than BOP are called fannings, PF for Pekoe Fannings, and the smallest particles are referred to as dust. Dust grades are used primarily in teabags.
Other letters are often appended to the grade of tea to produce a baffling list of designations such as SFTGFOP1 (Super-Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, grade 1). While there is a general correlation between acronyms and the general appearance and character of the tea, there is no strict correlation between the acronyms and the value or flavor of the tea. While these lengthy acronyms appear on nearly every chest of single-estate tea, the real value of the tea is in its appeal to the palate.
A Quick Guide to Nomenclature
Broken Orange Pekoe
Golden Broken Orange Pekoe
Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe
Golden Tippy Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe
Broken Pekoe Souchong
Flowery Orange Pekoe
Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, grade 1
Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, grade 1
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