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Darjeeling Tea: Quality Grades and Prices

A huge price-span

Buying Darjeeling tea in stores or online can be tricky. The price-span for 50g´s can range from less than CN$2.00 to CN$50.00 and more. Beside exceptional good qualities, usually produced on a small lot in a tea garden under perfect (weather-) conditions and excellent processing, You can always find some extremely cheap, but nonetheless “high quality”, “finest” etc. labelled Darjeeling teas. But: at a closer look You will often miss among those teas essential details like the quality grade, the harvest year, the “best before”-date or the tea is already more than 2 or 3 years old. And: according to the Tea Board of India still more Darjeeling tea is sold than produced (!); for that there is always a chance that some of those cheaper “high quality” teas are stretched with "not so high" qualities.

Compare apples with apples - even if it´s tea!

Whenever you intend to buy a high quality (Darjeeling) tea and you compare prices, please be aware that you compare apples with apples, means, teas of the same quality grades. This can be difficult as – as mentioned above - not all labels (or descriptions in online stores or on platforms like Amazon) show the quality grade – sometimes for good (or better: for “not so good”) reasons. Sometimes it can be even more difficult, namely, if a labels shows a high grade like FTGFOP1, but somewhere else on the pouch or in the description you may find the note “broken leave”, what’s a lower leaf grade than “whole leave”; however, broken leaves must not necessarily result in a lower taste and flavour compared to a whole leaf tea. 

 

The tea-quality grades

To be able to assess quality in the pouch that you bought from us or from one of our competitors, please see below the list with the standard quality grades for Darjeeling tea.

Based on leaf quality and size, Darjeeling teas are categorized in 4 groups:

• Whole Leaf
• Broken Leaf
• Fannings
• Dust

Whole leaf

•    SFTGFOP: Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe indicates it contains many tips and is long and wiry in appearance. The liquors are lighter in color.

o    Fine: unique quality, great flavour
o    Tippy: the unopened buds of a tea bush. The higher the number of buds or tips, the higher generally the grade.
o    Golden: the orange coloured tips in a high graded black tea”
o    Flowery Orange Pekoe: large leaf size (relatively to the variety), many tip

•    FTGFOP: Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
•    TGFOP: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe

Broken leaf

Broken leafs consist of small tea leaves or pieces of large leaves
•    FTGBOP: Fine Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe
•    TGBOP: Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe
•    FBOP: Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe
•    BOP: Broken Orange Pekoe

Fannings

Fannings consist of even smaller leaf sizes than the brokens.
•    GFOF: Golden Flowery Orange Fannings
•    GOF: Golden Orange Fannings

Dust

Dust, the lowest grade, consists of small pieces of tea leaves and tea dust.
•    D: Dust

Often You will find an “1” added at the end of the higher grades. This means “grade one” tea!