Teas of the World: “Tippy” Teas

Tippy is a term that describes a tea which has many golden tips (the newly budding leaf). It usually designates a higher quality of tea, especially as part of the Orange Pekoe grading system. For example, there is TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) which represents some of the most precious tea in the world. After brewing, it is not uncommon to see whole leaves in their original state. The tip on these leaves can make up as much as a fourth of a whole leaf. (For more info on this grading system, see What’s All This “Orange Pekoe” Stuff Mean?)

Golden Heaven Yunnan (ETS Image)
Golden Heaven Yunnan (ETS Image)

Several “Tippy” teas are still made in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). They involve sorting out the tips by hand, making them extremely more expensive to produce than the run-of-the-mill grades. Fortunately, these teas are in demand in many Western tea markets and so command higher prices.

Some tippy teas:

  • Assam TGFOP Tea — Loose Leaf TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) blend is flavorful with superb astringency and full on 2nd flush jammy profile. An expansive malt character opens with milk. Interested in learning more about Assam? Check out these posts: Assam Tea Basics and More on Assam!
  • Xinyang Mao Jian (Green Tip or Tippy Green) — An example of a slightly higher grade of Chinese green tea. This is one of the Chinese famous teas. The first word of the name refers to its place of origin. It was originally produced in the city of Xinyang in the Henan province of China. The second word means “tiny fuzz in cup when brewed”; and the third word is “sharp, full young leaves.” The aroma of the steeped tea is said to be quite soothing.
  • Golden Heaven Yunnan China Black Tea — Composed of tippy, neat, wiry, and well-made leaves, characterized by its shape, color, aroma, and malty taste and a bright reddish cup with a brisk, fragrant aroma. One of the highest quality teas available from Yunnan Province, it is made during the last 2 weeks of March and the first 2 weeks of April, delivering a brighter golden tip. Known as one of the worlds great teas, this tea is perfect on its own, but also takes a bit of milk or sugar well that help capture the malty character. For the best brew, steep in water that has been brought to a rolling boil for 3-7 minutes.
  • Keemun Black Tea — One of the 10 classic teas of China. It consists of wonderfully processed tippy leaves that produce an aromatic sweetness with each cup and a rich flavor that is unforgettable.
  • TK30 Golden Kenya TGFOP — A whole-leaf, tippy tea for any time of day.
  • Milima-Kericho, Kenya Estate Tea (GFBOP) — One of the finest black teas from Africa, it is much like a traditional Assam with golden tips and produces an elegant, ruby-colored cup with malty notes and a deep Bordeaux-like flavor. Perfect for after dinner. Manufactured at the Saosa Factory in East Africa — the only one there producing orthodox style leaf tea.
  • Oriental Beauty (White Tip Oolong, Bai Hao Oolong) — This tea is tippy (the leaves frequently have white or golden tips), with natural fruity aromas, a bright red appearance and a sweet taste.

One caution here: some unscrupulous tea vendors label their teas as “tippy” or even “golden tippy” when they aren’t. As always, know your tea vendor and deal with those that are reputable and reliable.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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