Page 14 - preparation of tea
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5. WhiteTea:Thisuniquetypeisairdriedinitiallytostopfermentation.Thereislittleorno physical leaf processing. Once the tea has air dried sufficiently, it is then heated in ovens. White tea ideally is the finest of plucking, sometimes including only the bud of the leaf in the case of “Silver Tip” tea.
C. Grades of Tea
As part of their processing, tea leaves go through sieves, with graduated mesh, to sort them for commercial sale. These sieves divide them into three grades: leaf, broken and fine.
Leaf grades are made up of the larger leaves left after the broken grades have been sifted out. In brewing, flavor and color come out of leaf grades more slowly than out of broken and fine grades. The primary leaf grades are known as Orange Pekoe (pronounced peck-o), Pekoe and Pekoe Souchong.
In orthodox manufacture, broken grades are made up of smaller, broken leaves, which vary in percentage to the marketing needs of countries in which they are produced. These broken grades make a darker, stronger beverage than their leafy counterparts.
Americans frequently believe they are getting a certain quality of tea when they buy Orange Pekoe. In actuality, the term has its origins in China where pekoe means “white hairs”, a look attributed to the presence of white tea buds amid the tea leaves.
The derivation of “Orange” in Orange Pekoe is much less definitive. Its origins are traceable to the color of the rolled leaves during processing, the use of orange blossoms to scent tea, or to the early Dutch traders desire to link these teas to nobility (the House of Orange).
Today, Orange Pekoe simply denotes a size of the tea leaf. Orange Pekoe has nothing to do with the flavor or quality of tea. The Pekoe, Souchong, Broken Orange Fannings and Fines (Dust) designations are similarly used to indicate size of the black tea leaf.
A brief description of the primary grades follows:
1. Orange Pekoe: Long, thin, wiry leaves which sometimes contain the white or yellow tip of
the flower bud. The liquors are generally pale in color.
2. Pekoe:theleavesofthisgradeareshorterandnotsowiryasOrangePekoeandtheliquors
generally have more color.
3. Souchong:Aboldandroundleaf,withpaleliquors.
4. Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP): Smaller than the leaf grades. The liquors have good color
and strength in the cup and are the mainstay of a blend.
5. Broken Pekoe (BP): Slightly larger than Broken Orange Pekoe with rather less color in the
cup; useful as a filler in a blend.
6. Broken Pekoe Souchong: A little larger or bolder than broken pekoe and in consequence
lighter in the cup. It is also used as a filler.
7. Broken Orange Pekoe Fanning (BOPF): Much smaller than Broken Orange Pekoe and its
main virtues are quick brewing with good color in the cup.
8. Fines (dust): This is the name for the smallest grade produced. Very useful for a quick
brewing, strong cup of tea.
VII. Equipment Sanitation Recommendation by Company
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