What is Orange Pekoe Tea? All Facts You Need to Know


orange pekoe Tea

Have you ever go to a tea shop, stare at different types of tea, and get confused? We understand the common name like black tea, green tea, or white tea. But what exactly is Orange Pekoe Tea? Let’s find out what it means and answer some questions about this distinctive tea name. 

What does orange pekoe tea mean?

Orange pekoe tea is a tea classification, not a specific tea blend. Originated from India and Sri Lanka, now it is considered medium-grade black tea in North America. It contains the young and tender tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant. Pekoe tea has different grades, separated by the size and the quality of tea leaves. 

Pekoe is a high-quality black tea that consists of downy bud tips and young tea leaves. The name associates with the young tea leaf down-like hairs. Orange, as part of the name, does not describe the flavor or component of the tea. 

Orange Pekoe tea tastes like your typical medium strength black tea. Tea shops may sell this tea of different qualities and blend. Some blends have a hint of oak, dark honey, while others may have the malted grain aroma and taste. 

How the tea is made?

Orange pekoe tea is made of young tea leaves in specific sizes. Orange pekoe – OP itself is a tea grading measurement that breaks down into other sub-grades such as:

  • FOP – Flowery orange pekoe
  • GFOP – Golden flowery orange pekoe
  • TGFOP – Tippy golden flowery orange pekoe 
  • FTGFOP – Finest tippy golden flowery orange pekoe

The process of making this tea is pretty much the same as with all black tea. The leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant go through the process of wither, roll, and heat. From then it goes through the fermentation, better known as the oxidization process. White and green tea does not go through this step. Fermentation changes the taste of the tea, caffeine, and other compounds content. 

Is there orange in orange pekoe tea?

Given the name, some people may mistakenly think that there is orange of some sort in orange pekoe tea. But the truth is, there is absolutely no orange component in this tea. 

The term orange added in is more of a witty marketing term by the prominent tea trader, Dutch East India Company. The name derived from the House of Orange-Nassau, the Dutch Royal Family. At that time, the highest quality of black tea is mostly reserved for the royal family. Later on, it is known for the public as orange pekoe tea. In some ways, it sounds elegant in the European market, associate the tea with royalty. 

Health benefit

Like other types of tea, drink orange pekoe tea regularly bring excellent health benefits. It comes from the high antioxidant and antimicrobial properties found in tea. 

Orange pekoe tea benefits range from promoting heart health, digestive health to fighting diseases. American Heart Association published the result of a study on the effect of tea in 66 patients. It showed that drink black tea daily for four weeks, including orange pekoe varieties reversed endothelial dysfunction – the underlying cause of heart disease in 50 patients.

Polyphenols, an antioxidant found in black tea (orange pekoe), also play a role in slowing the growth of cancerous cells. A high level of antioxidant compounds helps the human body to prevent and combat diseases. They support and protect our cells against DNA damage. 

Orange pekoe also contains theanine, better known as caffeine, that helps increase alertness and sharpen our focus. One 6 fl. oz (177 ml) cup of orange pekoe tea contains 34 milligrams of caffeine. The amount of caffeine varies depending on tea varieties, processing, and brewing method. The sub-grades of orange pekoe tea also has a varying amount of caffeine. Young tea leaves contain more caffeine than mature leaves or stems. For instance, Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe carries a higher amount of caffeine than Flowery Orange Pekoe as it is made from tea plant bud tips. 

Is English breakfast the same as Orange Pekoe?

Another famous black tea in the market is English breakfast tea. Known for its strong and robust flavor, English breakfast is not the same as orange pekoe. Both of them are black tea, but orange pekoe is a tea classification term, not a specific blend. 

The blend of English breakfast tea differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. For example, the English breakfast blend from Twinings is a mix of Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan tea, while Taylors of Harrogate English Breakfast is the blend of African and Indian tea. The flavor varies from blend to blend and processing methods. But mostly, it has a smooth, rich, and full-bodied flavor. Like orange pekoe, tea drinkers enjoy sipping English breakfast tea on its own or add in some milk as a great companion.

Where to buy Orange pekoe tea

You can find orange pekoe tea in your local supermarket, tea shops or on Amazon. They are likely to carry one or more brands. You can also look for the OP – Orange Pekoe grading on each package. 


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