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365 Challenge > Day 140 – Organic Orange Pekoe-A from Ceylon

Possibly, the famous Ceylon black tea, also known as OPA. ‘A’ signifies the fine grade of Orange Pekoe meaning ‘larger’ and slightly ‘open’ leaf pieces*. Indeed, OPA has the largest leaves compared to OP, which is followed by OP1, which has the smallest ‘whole leaf’ in the Sri Lanka grading system. Comparing this tea with OP Ceylon tea (coming from the same tea growing region Dimbulla that I reviewed earlier), I can say that this OPA is milder and more delicate.

Its dry leaves were almost scentless, but I insisted and get a hint of floral and woody aromas which became somewhat clearer through the infused leaves. The tea liquor has very faint fragrance (even in gongfu style). Still, the taste was pleasant with a light-bodied and refreshing character. I do not know why, but I expected bolder flavours and some sweetness. The sweetness is there but almost at a level of delicate white tea with a subtle balance between floral and mineral notes.

You may be asking, does the size of the leaf matter. I did ask this question to myself a lot. In the context of Sri Lankan teas, the answer is two-folded. Yes, it does because it means that you are getting ‘whole leaves’ rather than broken pieces which normally makes the tea stronger. Nevertheless, the answer can also be a ‘no’. As Will Battle mentions in his “The World Tea Encyclopaedia” only OP category can claim the whole leaf, but this does not necessarily make them better teas. He goes on saying that “OPA is a less well-twisted than an OP which itself is inferior in the same way to an OP1”. I would like to conclude this post by saying that, overall size does matter for a leaf, but it does not straightforwardly mean for the better. The world of tea can be confusing, so to avoid overwhelming the best you can do is to find the tea you like the best. From there, you can take a benchmark and diversify your tea experiences.

Source: Will Battle, The Wolrd Tea Encyclopedia. 2017

Tea Profile:

Type: Black tea

Origin: Dimbulla, Sri Lanka

Harvest time: February 2020

Leave colour: Shades of brown

Liquor colour: Amber

Tea aroma: Faint woody and floral notes

Tea taste: Light-bodied mellow taste with subtle sweetness and floral notes

Steeping/brewing: You can use 90-100°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)

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