Tea is pleasing to the senses
The tea plant (camellia sinensis) is related to the camellia. It has yellowy-white flowers, evergreen leaves and hard-shelled fruit. A tea plant can easily grow to become 100 years old in the right circumstances. Wild tea plants have been reported to live up to 1,700 years. Since tea is pleasing to the senses and good hot or cold, it's not wonder why it's so popular.
Tea contains caffeine
Tea is a stimulant because it directly affects the brain and central nervous system. It increases concentration and responsiveness. Cultivation: Tea is cultivated in large plantations. Northern India grows a lot of tea. Tea is propagated by taking cuttings from parent plants. The tea plant is kept in the vegetative phase by regular pruning to prevent flowering and fruit formation. For the tea harvest, pickers gather the two uppermost leaves and the newest bud. Most picking is done by hand in order to preserve the quality of the harvest. Some countries have developed mechanical picking methods.
Green, black tea come from same plant
Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea, but the fermentation process is prevented by heat treatment immediately after withering. Steaming destroys the plant's enzymes so the leaf will stay green instead of turning black.
Green tea is available in the same familiar grades as black tea, depending on the production specification. Green tea is a strongly alkaline drink, which protects the body from hyperacidity. It contains numerous tannins, minerals and vitamins.
Tea grading and sorting
The leaf grades result from the last stage of production, the sorting stage. There are 4 basic groups: leaf, broken, fannings and dust. These categories indicate the different leaf sizes and strengths.
Whole leaf grades
- FTGFOP1 (Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves). Mainly from Darjeeling, also some parts of Assam.
- SFTGFOP1 (Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves).
- TGFOP1/TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves / Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe). Main grade in Darjeeling and Assam.
- GFOP1 (Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves). Top grade in Milima and Marinyn - the only plantations in Kenya which produces leaf teas. Now less common in Assam and Darjeeling.
- FOP/FOP1 (Flowery Orange Pekoe/Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves). 2nd grade in Assam, Dooars and Bangladesh, top grade in China. Long leaf, few tips.
- OP sup (Orange Pekoe Superior) Only from Indonesia.
- OP (Orange Pekoe) Main grade in Ceylon and Java tea production. Can consist of long wiry leaf without tips.
- BOP1 (Broken Orange Pekoe First Grade Leaves). Semi Leaf Tea. Specialty of "low districts" of Ceylon. Coarse, black-leaf tea, comprising roughly 40% OP and 60% Pekoe/BOP.
- Off grades: Some OP2 (Orange Pekoe Second Grade Leaves). Leaf tea with added ingredients, but only in Ceylon and Southern India.
Broken leaf grades
- P/FP (Pekoe/Flowery Pekoe) Mainly in Ceylon and Southern India, also produced in some parts of Kenya. Usually coarser, fleshier broken leaf.
- BOP coarse (Broken Orange Pekoe) Coarse, Indonesian name for Pekoe.
- BPS (Broken Pekoe Souchong) Name for Pekoe in Assam and Darjeeling.
- TGFBOP1 (Tippy Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1) Finest broken First Grade Leaves in Darjeeling and some parts of Assam. High tip content, uniform leaf.
- GFBOP1 (Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1) Mainly produced in Assam as the top broken grade; the only tippy broken from Kenya.
- GBOP (Golden Broken Orange Pekoe) Next, second-grade tea. Inhomogeneous leaf, fewer tips.
- FBOP (Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe) Coarser broken with some tips from Assam, Ceylon, Indonesia, China and Bangladesh. In South America coarser, black broken. In Southern India, Pekoe is often known as FBOP.
- BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) Main broken grade in Ceylon, Southern India, Java and China.
- BP (Broken Pekoe) From Indonesia. Ceylon, Southern India.
- FBOPF (Finest Broken Orange Pekoe Flowery) Mainly from Ceylon's "low districts". A leafy BOP1 with Tips. Specialty: so-called "Spider Leaf".
- BT (Broken Tea) From Sumatra, Ceylon, some parts of Southern India. Usually a black, open, fleshy leaf, very bulky.