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The Arbor Teas Blog

India's Tea Grading System Might Get Even More Complicated

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Organic Assam Black Tea TGFOPYou may have noticed the long list of grading letters that often trail the name of an Indian or Sri Lankan (Ceylon) tea, such as in our Organic and Fair Trade Certified Assam Black Tea "TGFOP". Once manufactured, tea is graded based on its physical description (including leaf size and color). Indian black teas are subject to the most structured and extensive grading system. It is important to know that Indian tea grading does NOT reflect the quality of the final brew, just the visual characteristics of the dry tea leaf. The basic term used for grading whole leaf tea,what we predominately sell at Arbor Teas, is Orange Pekoe (pronounced PECK-oh), or "OP". In addition to the "OP" designation, additional letters are often assigned to describe the leaves' various characteristics. So, for example the tea shown above has a rating of "TGFOP" which signifies a tea leaf that is Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. Now that is a mouthful!

Well, this already complicated system might be getting even more complicated. As reported in the Business Standard today, the Tea Board of India is proposing to rate tea factories too. During his address at the inaugural session of the 24th annual general meeting of Federation of All India Tea Traders Association (FAITTA), the chairman of the Tea Board Board of India, M G V K Bhanu, announced that the Tea Board of India has proposed to give all the tea factories in India a category rating ranging from A to D, with A being the top quality category. Bhanu stressed this rating system would help spread awareness about the importance of good quality tea among the small tea growers and ensure good quality tea production in the country.

"We propose to map all the tea factories on some of the key parameters. An independent agency will take samples of tea from these factories and certify them with respective categories like A, B, C and D. This will give the factories an identity and ensure the quality production of tea," said Tea Board of India chairman Bhanu.

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