What makes quality tea: it's all in the grade of leaf
Not all tea is created equal. In fact, it can become a terminology slippery slope. Terms like “Orange Pekoe”, “Broken Leaf” and “Dust” or “Fannings” become part of a vernacular that can become overwhelming when you begin your search for quality tea.
We would like to demystify and simplify. We will begin with the highlights of what you need to know, and what taste profile will come from these different grades of tea to help with your selections.
Leaf size does matter: but it's not a guarantee of quality!
There is a grading system used for black teas based on the leaf size and amount of tip (bud) in the tea. They are categorised as “whole leaf”, “broken leaf”, and “dust”. This is determined by their ability to fall through the screens of special sized mesh.
Teas are then designated names according to its grading and profile. For example, Pekoe (P) means teas picked as 2 leaves and a bud. Orange Pekoe (OP), is a full-leaf tea with no tip or buds.
Whole and Broken Black Tea Leaf Grades
Broken Tea: Knowing your Fannings
Fannings and dust are the smallest grades of tea. The Fannings produce a very fast and strong brew. What was once thrown away, is now commonly used for mass market tea bag consumption. We have chosen not to use Fannings or dust in our teabags, but the high-grade loose leaf tea.
Generally, drinking whole leaf tea allows one to experience a wider range of complex flavour profiles. Being larger in size, there is less exposure to air, light and heat that will age or oxidise the tea – making it more beneficial to our health compared to its smaller-sized counterpart. Generally, the more whole the leaf is and the more buds it contains, the higher the grade of tea and better the quality.