For folks who want to experience the true flavor gourmet tea has to offer, the best method is to use loose leaf tea instead of ordinary tea bags. You will also obtain better health benefits from whole brewed tea as well! On this page we will explore why.
First, let us get a better understanding of the grades of tea. We will see what loose leaf teas are better than others, and also find out what really goes in those tea bags.
The Grades Of Tea
Tea is not graded by actual taste, but instead by leaf size and texture. Below is a list of common grading terms…
- (FTGFOP) standing for “Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe” is one of the highest grades of loose leaf tea. The brew should always be well rounded and have a clean and pure taste. The liquor will be bright and have good color producing a very appealing aroma. This of course varies depending on the actual variety of tea.
- Next is (TGFOP) meaning “Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe”. This grading is also very considerable, and makes a fine cup. Most black teas folks buy are usually of this grade.
- (GFOP) or “Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe”, is more of a mid-range grade and has noticeably smaller leaves compared to FTGFOP. However, the flavor of the brew still remains better than any tea bag steeped tea!
- (FOP) or “Flowery Orange Pekoe”, is the next grade down, a common and fair quality loose leaf tea grade.
- After that we have the famous yet misunderstood (OP) which stands for “Orange Pekoe”. Most folks think that this is a variety of tea, when instead is really just a low-range tea grade. Expect a decent tasting cup when steeping the leaves of this quality.
- Next comes “(BOP)”, meaning Broken Orange Pekoe. This grade is a cheaper loose leaf tea grade, and may even be found in some “good” tea bags.
- Finally, we have the last grading of whole leaf tea which is just (P) for “Pekoe”. Pekoe, by the way, is pronounced ‘peck-o’.
So those are your basic grades of tea. But wait! I almost forgot to mention what is found in those tea bags.
Well, you might have noticed I quoted the word “good” above when referring to the (BOP) grading of tea going in tea bags. This is because there are even lower grades of tea that are found in them.
What ever is left over after the “(P)” grading is what makes its way into most tea bags.
These particles of tea are called “fannings” or “tea dust”, and are literally the bottom of the barrel when it comes to tea! They might add color to your cup, but you will not experience gourmet tea flavor! I promise you that.
This is due to the fact that they have been broken up so much, all the natural oils have left the leaves and dried up, leaving little room for flavor. Plus, they sit in these bags for months on supermarket shelves before you purchase them, letting even more time go by.
Finding Gourmet Tea
Not all tea merchants on the net have the same product. It can be hit or miss. One good tea merchant that sells quality loose teas is Adagio Teas. This popular online shop offers a nice selection of teas, and is great for newcomers starting their journey. They are also favored by seasoned drinkers as well! The little sample sizes are perfect for sampling many different teas at a low cost!
Another way to compare gourmet loose leaf tea to tea bags is this…
Starbucks brand coffee is much better than instant coffee found in those plastic jars! Right? The instant stuff being those tea bags. Same goes for loose leaf vs. tea bag!
When you view the grading system of gourmet tea above and travel down the list, it suddenly dawns on you that there is a whole other side to tea then those bags huh?
Where to Buy Gourmet Tea
Purchase from Adagio Teas
Fresh Tea from Mighty Leaf Tea
And last but not least, gourmet tea is a much healthier brew than the brew offered by tea bags. So if drinking tea for your health is important…go for the loose stuff!