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Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe

Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe

It’s hard to imagine that once upon a time I found the term “orange pekoe” to be such a mystery. It’s really quite simple. “Pekoe” is a common grading of Indian and Ceylonian teas that has several finer gradings (each indicated by an additional letter added to the left of the others).

Here is one description of these gradings:

  • Pekoe – P – not a quality designation, just means a whole leaf tea mostly from India and Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon)
  • Orange Pekoe – OP — a slightly larger and possibly thinner tea leaf, but the “orange” doesn’t mean the color (legend says it’s the Dutch royal Family Orange Nassau)
  • Flowery Orange Pekoe – FOP – the minimum grade for hand-plucked tea, the “flower” is the unopened bud of a tea leaf
  • Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe – GFOP – means that certain leaves in the mix have a golden tip, which indicates higher quality
  • Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe – TGFOP – most experts say this should be used when all tips are golden, unfortunately not always the case
  • Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe – FTGFOP – designates a super-premium specialty tea
  • Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe – SFTGFOP – another step up the grade scale

You will also see numbers after some of the above (example: SFTGFOP-1) or even further grading terms (example: SFTGFOP-Extra Fancy or SFTGFOP-Extra Special). There are also broken leaf grades, since this tea is usually a black tea and is often chopped into smaller pieces. Take the above grade designations and add a “B” (example: GFBOP for Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe).

Another definition (paraphrased):

A 7-tier grading system for black tea that relates to the size and physical condition of the leaf rather than a particular kind of tea, flavor, or quality. Often, Orange Pekoe teas are blends, with “orange pekoe” indicating that the tea is the second highest grade in the system. “Pekoe” is from the Chinese word meaning “white” as in the 2-leaves-and-a-bud combo plucked from the branch tip. When applied to Indian and Ceylonian teas, it indicates whole leaves that are uniform in size, even those from lower on the branch of the tea bush (Camellia Sinensis). “Orange” could either mean the Dutch House of Orange Nassau or the Chinese practice from ages past of adding orange blossoms to the tea leaves for flavor.

There are other definitions being bandied back and forth, but the main thing is these grades are a general guide. The more letters, the higher grade the tea is supposed to be. Of course, it’s not an exact system. While I have confidence in the honesty of tea growers to take care to label their teas accurately, the process involves some subjectivity on their part. In short, buyer beware. And have a bit of understanding. The people labeling these teas are working with large batches of tea leaves. Your pouch or tin is a small part of that batch and is not necessarily representative of the overall quality, so don’t downgrade the rest if you happen to get a bit that is “off.”

Whichever grade of Pekoe you choose, steep it up right and you will have a tasty cuppa!

Don’t miss A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Sylvakandy Estate Tea

Sylvakandy Estate Tea

Many people have unknowingly come across Orange Pekoe tea, as the term Orange Pekoe refers more to leaf-size than it does to a specific tea. The words are often spotted on tea bag tags in restaurants, where they are often used as a more generic term for tea. In this way, the name Orange Pekoe enjoys a certain amount of popularity, but it isn’t a tea that is well understood, which is why I thought it appropriate to turn your attention to this often overlooked leaf.

Orange Pekoe tea is a medium-grade leaf that delivers a full-bodied brew and a strong taste. If you’re looking for one powerful cup of tea to start the day, a tea like the English Tea Store’s Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe tea does the trick. The brassiness of the malt gives it this powerful kick (which can be a boon in overcoming the afternoon slump as well) that accompanies the caffeine of a solid, classic cup of black tea. What I like about the Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe tea is the malty overtones which give way to a brisk floral undertone, making this a balanced and enjoyable tea.

The name Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe is also quite a mouthful, so let’s break it down, so you can understand more about what you’re drinking. “Pekoe” or “Orange Pekoe” are terms used in grading the leaves. These indicate the size of the leaf, and generally establish the main grade, from which the quality and size is added onto the chain of letters that indicate size and flush. It can be applied to any black tea, primarily those from India & Sri Lankan and other non-Chinese regions. It is seen often as the acronym “OP.” However, if the leaves are crushed or broken, it will be designated “BOP” for “Broken Orange Pekoe,” which is a lower-grade of tea quality.

The “Orange” is not indicative of the addition or association of the fruit. Perhaps the orange can be seen in the coppery hues of the tea’s liquor, but again, there is no orange flavor. Historically, the name goes back to the royal claim that the Europeans (in this case the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau) were putting on teas brought from India to England during the 1600’s by the Dutch East India Tea Company. Years later the House of Orange has made its mark and so we have Orange Pekoe Tea.

And as for “Sylvakandy,” according to their website, the English Tea Store’s product hails from the Kandy region of Sri Lanka (formerly referred to as Ceylon).

Sweeten with a touch of honey for a slightly more elegant and smooth taste.
Brew between 2-5minutes. Enjoy.

See also: Sylvakandy Estate Ceylon Tea — Sheer Delight!

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Blog of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Iced Tea

Iced Tea

Warmer weather is coming to the Northern Hemisphere as Spring cranks into full gear. That means one thing: Iced Tea! You can settle for the bottled stuff and take your chances on what’s in it. Better yet, make your own — a tradition since the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 when tea merchant Richard Blechynden introduced it to a hot and weary public.

Your first decision is which tea to use. Most bottled brands use “orange pekoe,” which isn’t orange but black and is in many well-known bagged teas. (According to The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, “orange” refers to the Duke of Orange and “pekoe” is an overused term once meaning high quality tea.) You can stick to this or take a venture into a more unusual choice.

Green tea is one. It can be very tasty when chilled and is available bottled. Some have fruit-like flavors and sweeteners added. Making your own, though, lets you choose which green tea to use and what, if anything, to add. Try Jasmine Petal, Artichoke Green, and Chai Green. They all have things added, but you know up front what they are.

White teas are another option. They are the not-quite-matured leaves and buds, so the flavor is free of astringency, a real taste-killer in chilled teas. Fruit-flavored ones have natural sweetness. Try Snow Dragon.

Breakfast blends steep up strong-tasting tea that’s slightly bitter when chilled, but sweetener and/or lemon help. These can contain Ceylon, Darjeeling, Keemun, Kenyan, and other black teas. Try Monk’s Blend, English Breakfast Blend No. 1, and Earl Grey.

More options for you: I just taste-tested several Darjeeling teas and find that all of them taste wonderful chilled.

Now that you’ve picked a tea, how do you go about making your own iced tea? (Actually, a better term is “chilled tea.”) To be brief, about the same way you go about making hot tea. You need the basics: good water, tea, additives you prefer, and teawares. Now, you have a choice to make. Do you steep using the cold method or the hot method?

The hot method:

  • Put tea in the teapot
  • Heat water (black: 212˚, green and white: 180˚)
  • Pour water into teapot
  • Steep (black: 5 minutes, green: 3 minutes, white: 2-3 minutes)
  • Pour tea (strain if loose leaf) into a container and refrigerator overnight

The cold method:

  • Put tea and water (1 tsp. per 8 oz. of water) in a refrigeratable container
  • Refrigerate overnight (you might get away with only four hours)

When the tea is thoroughly chilled, add your enhancers (lemon, sugar, sweetener, etc.). Serve chilled but without ice. Ice melts and dilutes the tea. (Many iced tea recipes call for brewing the tea up strong to offset the melted ice, but I prefer a tea that’s brewed to its proper strength and then chilled for awhile. Good things are worth waiting for.)

Caution about sun tea: Some experts warn that bacterial growth could result. Advice I’ve seen (from Jon Stout of Golden Moon Tea) is to let the steeped tea sit in the refrigerator several hours, then check for what looks like small strands floating in it. These are strings of bacterial cells. If you see these, throw out the tea. Better yet, start with purified water or boil your water for 5-6 minutes.

One other item: “sweet tea” — a phenomenon peculiar to Southeast U.S. It’s basically iced (chilled) tea with lots of sugar. As someone raised in the Midwest and who’s traveled around the States and abroad, having a waitress in the Southeast ask if I wanted “sweet tea” was a culture shock since it’s virtually unknown elsewhere. I ordered a glass. One mouthful was enough. To say it was sweet would be like saying that Mount Everest was a bit tall.

Sweetened or not, sun brewed or regular brewed, enjoy a cool moment during the heat of the day with a tall glass of chilled (iced) tea.

Check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, for more advice on living what she calls the “tea life.”

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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