My struggle with ‘Tea Grade Nomenclature’ continues! This time, I think I found an official website that explains the grades from Sri Lanka which sets a good baseline.
For this tea, it is important to note that the leaves are broken and not full leaves. Therefore, ‘B’ stands for ‘broken’. OP refers to orange pekoe (only means black tea) while OP1 means wirier than OP. It is a mouthful, I know. While it is a good system and gives us a lot of info about a tea; different parameters influence a tea's quality and this nomenclature does not entail them all.
Firstly, if you have a tea that has an acronym that starts with ‘B’ you will know that you will get some broken pieces of leaves and petioles. Therefore, you should naturally expect a strong and malty taste. Indeed, this type of tea is suitable for breakfast blends. My personal preference in black tea is a mellow taste with honey and chocolate undernotes. Such a tasting profile is not normally achieved through broken leaves which tend to yield to bolder flavours as discussed above.
On the other hand, with the tea grade nomenclature, one cannot know where the tea comes from which has a tremendous impact on the quality of the tea. For instance, this tea comes from middle grown tea growing region in Sri Lanka which is a small town called Pussallawa in the Kandy District. Ceylon tea can be categorised into three based on the elevation of the tea garden. Low-grown teas (up to 2000 feet) do not have a very good reputation however, there are exceptions (e.g. this FFEXP). High-grown teas come from an elevation between 4,000 and 6,000 feet and they are responsible for the Ceylon’s reputation in the world of tea (e.g. this Ceylon green tea) due to the rarefied air. This BOP1 falls between the low and high-grown tea as Pussallawa is situated at 2,000-4,000 feet above sea level.
Overall, I think I like to try a tea with as little information as possible in order to make my own judgement without prejudice. On the other hand, I see value in the standardisation of tea based on a grading system in terms of quality assurance. Putting this dilemma aside, I am starting to understand Ceylon teas a bit better and this one is a very decent tea for strong black tea lovers. I found the taste also fruity next to malty notes.
Source: Michael Harney, “The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea”.
Type: Black tea
Origin: Pussallawa, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Harvest time: 2020
Leave colour: Dark brown
Liquor colour: Amber red
Tea aroma: Malty and fruity
Tea taste: Strong, malty and fruity with a slight astringency
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 90°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 3 years (to improve shelf life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, dark place with low temperatures)