DARJEELING TEA GRADES
Darjeeling Tea is mostly produced with an orthodox method that keeps the leaves whole during the production. When Darjeeling Tea
is sold, it is classified by size and quality. Basically there are four Darjeeling Tea varieties or grades produced in Darjeeling which are laid below. Please note that these information only reflects the sizing nomenclature.
WHOLE LEAF Darjeeling Tea
SFTGFOP: Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (SFTGFOP) indicates that it contains many tips and are long and wiry in appearance. The tea liquor is lighter in color, but this depends on the Darjeeling Flushes or tea season.
Other whole leaf grades are:
FTGFOP: Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (FTGFOP). These are a little smaller in size than the above.
FTGBOP: Fine Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe (FTGBOP) Darjeeling Tea leaves are smaller in size and are graded in decreasing order of quality. This is normally got during Tea processing, specially during sorting.
Other broken Darjeeling Tea grades are:
TGBOP: Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe.
FBOP: Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe.
BOP: Broken Orange Pekoe.
GFOF: Golden Flowery Orange Fannings (GFOF) Darjeeling Tea leaves are still smaller in size than the brokens and are graded in decreasing order of quality.
Other Darjeeling Tea fanning grades:
GOF: Golden Orange Fannings.
D: Dust. This is the one generally used in traditional tea bags around the world. This is a convenient way of steeping tea in a hurry, but this usually isn't the best quality Darjeeling Tea you would be brewing.
Other Differences for Darjeeling quality
The above gradations relate only to the size of the leaf and not to quality differences. All grades are the product of the same green tea leaf. In addition to these nomenclatures, occasionally suffixes as China-(ch), Clonal-(cl), Special-(spl) (mentioned grade names are common with Margaret's Hope Tea Garden's production) etc. may be included, as per the practice of individual gardens. Sometimes Darjeeling Tea gardens add a numeral "1" after the grade name defining top grade. All of the above grades are generalized Darjeeling Tea grades or types which also greatly differs with different Darjeeling Flushes mainly, Darjeeling First Flush, Darjeeling Second Flush and Darjeeling Autumn Flush.
Darjeeling has evolved and with time, it has started producing different varieties of tea. The traditional "only black tea" production is not true anymore. Various tea gardens now produce overwhelming tea varieties. Some variety has become a brand of it's own, like the Castleton Muscatel Tea etc. This has grown due to demand and in nurturing tea clients in different parts of the world.