Classic Black Tea
Right after plucking, the fresh leaves are spread out on long sieve-like grates in the halls and made to wither by using hot air. In more modern factories, this is done in closed hot air channels. Withered leaves are then rolled on the 'cutter", their cell walls are broken and made open to oxygen within the air. The process of fermentation and oxidation is set off and the leaves turn copper-red. Later as the leaves are dried they become darker, taking on the name of black tea. The next step is to sieve the leaves and separate the different grades.
A tea manufacturer can usually be recognised by the deafening noise of tea processing machinery, ringing out over peaceful green fields. As a rule the husbands of the tea pluckers use their strength and skill to manufacture tea. Regardless of origin, the production of traditional black tea comprises five processes that overlap each other.
About different grades of tea....
The name 'Pekoe' refers to the presence of whole leaves which are large and intact. 'Orange Pekoe' is an historic aristocratic reference to the Dutch House of Orange. Both thus refer to quality rather than flavour. 'Tippy' or 'Flowery' refer to use of the very top shoots or leaves, thus denoting superior quality. 'Broken' or 'Small Leaf' may be a smaller grade of tea or torn leaf. Finally, the fragments of leaf and dust left over from processing go to fill tea bags (we don't offer this grade of tea at Tea Total, no sir)
Just like any professional, the more letters after their name, the more prestigious and expensive, tea is much the same.
F.T.G.F.O.P = Flowery tipped golden flowery orange pekoe. It's the way that tea grading is expressed. 1 at the end (FTGFOP1) denotes 1st or top quality. Easily remembered as Far Too Good For Ordinary People!