Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pekoe, Fannings and Dust

Tea leaf grading is the process of evaluating the quality and condition of the tea leaves. 
The highest grades are referred to as orange pekoe and the lowest as fannings or dust.

Pekoe tea grades are classified into various qualities.
 Each are determined by how many of the adjacent young leaves (two, one, or none) 
were picked along with the leaf buds. 
Top or prized quality pekoe grades consist of only the leaf buds. 
These are picked using the balls of the fingertips. 
Fingernails and mechanical tools are not used to avoid bruising.
These are handpicked teas and not machine cut
The crushed leaves are  bagged teas.
 The tea is referred to as "broken" - BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe).
Orange pekoe is referred to as "OP".
  The lower grades are called fannings and dust.
These are tiny remnants created in the process of sorting and crushing.
Broken, fannings and dust teas have slightly different grades.
The term "pekoe" or occasionally orange pekoe describes
 the unopened terminal leaf bud (tips) in tea flushes.

 The phrases "a bud and a leaf" or "a bud and two leaves"
are used to describe the "leafiness" of a flush.
 This is also used interchangeably with pekoe and a leaf or pekoe and two leaves.
Pekoe tea is a fine grade of tea which includes young tea leaves and buds.
The tea once handled and brewed has a rich forest-like scent, with a hint of bitterness
and a sweet finish.

Fannings are small pieces of tea.
Fannings are left over after higher grades of tea are gathered to be sold.
These were treated as the rejects of the manufacturing process
 in the making of high quality leaf tea like the orange pekoe.
Fannings with extremely small particles are sometimes called dusts.

Fannings and dusts are considered the lowest grades of tea.
They are separated from broken-leaf teas which have larger pieces of the leaves.
However, the fannings of expensive teas can still be more expensive
 and more flavorful than whole leaves of cheaper teas.
Cha wallahs in India and the South Asian sub-continent,
and Africa prefer dust tea because it is cheap and also produces a very strong brew.

Because of the small size of the particles, a tea infuser is typically used to brew fannings.
Fannings are also typically used in most tea bags,
although some companies sell tea bags containing whole-leaf tea.
Some exporters focus primarily on broken leaf teas, fannings, and dusts.

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