These are grades of tea typically associated with tea from India and Sri Lanka. Before we get started it should be said that Orange doesn’t mean the tea’s been flavoured, but refers to the colour of the hairs on the tea leaf once they’ve been oxidised. Pekoe is most likely a transliterated mispronunciation of the Chinese word for these hairs.
The grades for whole leaf orthodox black tea are:
- OP - Orange Pekoe - Main grade in tea production. Can consist of long wiry leaf without tips.
- OP sup - Orange Pekoe Superior - Primarily from Indonesia, tea is much the same as above.
- FOP - Flowery Orange Pekoe - High quality tea with a long leaf and few tips, considered second grade in Assam and Bangladesh and first grade in China.
- FOP1 - Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves - As above but with only the highest quality leaves in the F.O.P classification
- GFOP1 - Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves- Higher proportion of tip than FOP Top grade.
- TGFOP - Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe - Tea with the highest proportion of tip; Main grade in Darjeeling and Assam.
- TGOP1 - Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe - As above, but with only the highest quality leave in the T.G.F.O.P classification.
- FTGFOP - Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe - Highest quality tea in the world. Often hand processed and produced at only the best plantations. Roughly one quarter tips.
A joke among tea aficionados is that "FTGFOP" stands for "Far Too Good For Ordinary People". It’s not that funny really though and wasn’t really worth mentioning.
If you see a ‘B’ as a grade of tea it means the leaves are broken. ‘F’ means the leaves are fannings. ‘D’ refers to Dust.