Tea grading what is it?

Did you know that all tea despite the name of the “color” of the tea actually comes from the same “tea plant”?  The Camellia sinensis plant. The styles of tea are produced by altering the shape and chemistry of the leaf,  through the manufacturing process

A tea’s grade does not necessarily indicate flavor or quality. They are rather determined by many different factors including: the country of origin, the variety of the tea, the garden or estate, the elevation, the particular flush (picking) and the manufacturing after harvesting. Most black teas are graded and sold according to leaf or particle size. The harvesting and manufacturing of tea has a great impact on the finished size of the leaf, thus the tea grade.

 In general, not including “flower tea” or ” fruit infused tea” there are in total 5 styles of tea:

  • White Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Oolong Tea
  • Black Tea
  • Pu’erh Tea

Tea processing is five basic steps;

  1. Plucking
  2. Withering
  3. Rolling
  4. Oxidizing
  5. Firing/ Drying
Source: https://www.teaclass.com/lesson_0102.html

Within this article the grading system is based upon the size of processed and dried black tea leaves. Black tea is what you usually get served generally speaking almost everywhere, on the plane, in hotels, it’s your average liptons tea. As a quick explanation black tea is usually completely made within a day and  runs through all 5 processes in a  linear form which are generally not repeated. Black teas offer the strongest flavors are the only style of tea regularly consumed with milk and sugar. 

Tea General Classifications

Tea Classifications generally speak of the part of the tea leaf

Orange pekoe (OP)

Orange pekoe is used to describe a basic, medium-grade black tea consisting of many whole tea leaves of a specific size


This refers to the down-like white “hairs” on the leaf and also to the youngest leaf buds


Are essentially the leftover of the tea “leaf” after the buds have been picked for higher graded tea

Broken (B) – Plucked 


Choppy (C) contains many leaves of various sizes. 

Flowery (F) consists of large leaves, typically plucked in the second or third flush with an abundance of tips. 

Golden flowery  (GF) includes very young tips or buds 

Tippy (B)  includes  a larger amount tips

Tea Gradings



1. Whole leaf grades
2. Broken leaf grades
3. Fannings grades
4. Dust grades

1. Whole leaf grades

These grading terms are usually applied to black teas from India, Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, Africa, a few Chinese teas and to some other black teas. It is important to keep in mind with this grading system that whole leaf size teas command higher prices and have greater visual appeal. However the broken sizes can possess excellent flavour and aroma. Plus the smaller size tea leaves steep quicker releasing flavour faster.

Difference Between Loose Leaf Tea, Tea Sachets, and Tea Bags | Oh ...

2. Broken leaf grades





Pin on All about "MY" beautiful Sri Lanka

3. Fannings grades


fanning tea Manufacturer & Exporters from Kannur, India | ID - 4271483

4. Dust grades

Black Tea Dust

This grading system of tea is only applicable to leaf size. Although whole-leaf teas are often presented as higher quality, more desirable, and are often more expensive, it is impossible to generalize. Some broken-leaf teas can be outstanding, just as whole-leaf teas can be mediocre.It’s no wonder that tea is considered an art form when there are so many different concepts, processes and tastes. When it comes to tea, it’s more or less personal preference based on the four senses of sight, touch, scent and taste.

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