The ultimate ingredient study of tea

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By Young Austinian

Here is a collection of teas – white, green, oolong, black, herbal, and blended – to start your lesson in the art of tea. Some of the more useful tea things including utensils, cups, bowls, and bags that are often turned to when making a cup of tea are also featured. Click through the slideshow to learn about the different kinds of tea, benefits, tools, codes, brewing times & temperatures.

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The ultimate ingredient study of tea

Click through the slideshow to learn more about the different kinds of tea, benefits, tools, codes, brewing times & temperatures. Find the full post here for more details and information. 

(Photo: Young Austinian)

So that crazy SFTGFOP isn’t another language, it’s tea code, or rather tea leaf grading to be more precise. The letters correspond to a classification system and grading process that was popularized in the 19th century by British tea merchant and founder of the eponymous tea company, Sir Thomas Lipton. While the system is far too complex for the average tea sipper to really understand, the grading systems exist separately for fannings, broken leaves, dust, whole leaves, and even particular regions.

(Photo: Young Austinian)

Here are a few of the more common codes in order of rank:

BOP | Broken Orange Pekoe (Referring to broken tea, fannings, or dust used in tea bags.)
OP | Orange Pekoe
OPS | Orange Pekoe Superior
GFOP | Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
TGFOP | Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
SFTGFOP | all of the above, simply the best

Other fun words used in relation to tea quality include tippy, referring to an abundance of tea leaf tips, andflowery for when a tea consists mostly of large leaves.

BLACK TEAS

For black tea, leaves are picked and allowed to ferment in the open sun before being dried. Black teas are often blended, with either other black teas or herbs or flowers, to create familiar mixtures such as English Breakfast or Earl Grey. Teas are often named for their origins, thus Darjeeling and Assam are both named for their original regions in India.

GREEN TEAS

Green tea is made of unfermented leaves that are dried soon after picking. These leaves can be rolled tightly, like gunpowder, pan fried to help halt the fermentation process, or ground into a fine powder, like matcha, which is popular in Japan.

CHAI TEA

Also known as Masala chai, this tea blend typically contains a mix of black Assam tea, and aromatic spices such as peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon pieces, cloves, ground ginger, and sometimes chiles. Chai is often served with milk and lots of sugar.

ROOIBOS

Meaning “red bush” and also called “bush tea,” rooibos tea is made from a broom-like plant native to South Africa. The leaves undergo a similar curing process as traditional tea and can come in a variety of colors including green and red.

HERBAL TEAS

Herbal teas, while low if not void of caffeine, are often substituted for regular tea or used in blends. Chamomile tea is often used to soothe and to help people sleep, raspberry and spearmint teas help with digestion and stomach cramps, and rooibos is said to help with immunity.

YERBA MATE

Popular throughout South America, particularly in Argentina, yerba mate is tea is made from the dried leaves of the mate plant, a sub species of the holly family. The drink is often substituted for coffee as a caffeine alternative and is traditionally consumed out of a small hallowed out gourd with a special metal straw called a bombilla.

TEAS SHAPES & SIZES

Tea can be rolled, flattened, pan fried, or ground before it is ready to consume. When Jasmine Pearls touch hot water they slowly begin to unfurl into delicate whole tea leaves that give off the scent of fresh jasmine flowers. 

BREWING OPTIONS

Clockwise from top left: metal stick strainer, paper tea bags, food grade plastic mesh pyramids, paper pyramids, yerba mate bombilla, round paper bags, self-fill mesh tea bags with fold-over closure, vintage tea ball strainer, paper tea bag in an unsealed paper packet, square paper tea bags.

Each tea requires its own specific steeping time and temperature and is subject, of course, to the sipper’s preference. In general you can follow these rules:

White | 150-160 degrees F | 1-2 minutes
Green | 170-180 degrees F | 1-2 minutes
Oolong | about 185 degrees F | 2-3 minutes
Black | about 210 degrees F | 2-3 minutes
Herbal | about 210 degrees F | 3-6 minutes

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