What is Orange Pekoe Tea? A Complete Guide

Orange Pekoe tea has nothing to do with an orange flavor or color. Pekoe tea is a black tea. Confused?

So why is it called orange Pekoe Tea?

In this topic, you will find why it is called orange tea and everything about orange pekoe black tea. Please keep reading.

Orange Pekoe Tea

What is Orange Pekoe Tea?

Orange pekoe black tea is a particular grade of black tea, which is not a very high-quality orange pekoe loose-leaf black tea. It is a gauge of premium quality that confirms that the tea is whole loose leaves.

Orange pekoe tea leaves must be of the highest quality and harvested from the fresh buds and leaves of the plant. The best quality black leaf determines the taste standard for black teas.

The tea leaves must be of some specific size, wholly intact without breaks, rips, or tears, and run through a mesh screen. Like most black tea varieties, orange pekoe brews to reddish brown or deep golden.

Orange Pekoe Tea

Grades of Orange Pekoe Tea

The grading system of orange pekoe has different categories. These categories indicate the sizes and strengths of the tea. To qualify as pekoe tea, it must comprise the two youngest leaves and leaf buds, and this segment is called a flush.

Orange Pekoe (OP) is a blanket term that includes many higher grades, including:

  • Orange Pekoe (OP): The main variety of orange pekoes, also called OP. It comprises long leaves without tips.
  • Orange Pekoe 1: It has more delicate leaves that are more delicate. 
  • Orange Pekoe A: An upgrade of Orange Pekoe in which typically long leaves are rolled to seal in flavor and increase oxidization. The leaves are generally long.
  • Orange Pekoe Superior (OPS): This particular type comes from Indonesia.
  • Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP): It is a high quality with long leaves and some tips thrown in. 
  • Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (GFOP): is a high grade that includes delicate tips of leaves.
  • Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (TGFOP): This grade includes most leaf and bud tips for high-quality tea. 
  • Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (FTGFOP): It is a sublime level of black tea.
  • Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (SFTGFOP): These leaves are of the highest quality.

Orange pekoe black tea is also sold as broken or as dust, commonly used in tea bags. However, broken pekoes are low-quality as they are made from mature leaves, which have lost their flavor and medicinal properties. 

Orange Pekoe Tea

 Why Is The Tea Called Orange Pekoe Tea?

To find the reason for the origin of the “Orange Pekoe,” the name for black tea leaves, is a Herculean task. Some believe that it might have come from the word “peh-ho,” which means “white hair or down,” comparing it with white down on tea buds and leaves.  

The pekoe term is also believed to have been derived from a Chinese word that describes the downy white hairs appearing on young tea buds.

One more theory says that Sir Thomas Lipton coined the name for marketing purposes, while others link it to the Dutch House of Orange since Dutch wanted to bring tea westward.

The other theory says that the term refers to the orange color of the leaves they attain after oxidation.

Tea drinkers from the West use the ‘orange pekoe’ term for black teas from Asian countries, including India and Sri Lanka.

Taste of Orange Pekoe Tea

The two most important factors that determine the flavor profile of orange pekoe tea are:

  1. The tea master (who blends the tea), and
  2. The origin of the tea

The tea has a rich herbal and deep flavor. The flowery variety is aromatic; people usually drink it without adding milk. Many people drink it due to the health benefits it offers.

Orange Pekoe Tea

Benefits of Orange Pekoe Tea

Like most black teas, delectable orange pekoe tea provides several health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body and improve the immune system. They also help minimize cardiovascular diseases, lower blood sugar levels and also help to reduce the risk of degenerative diseases, including cancer.

Orange Pekoe has very less amount of caffeine. It also provides l-theanine, which can reduce anxiety and relieve stress. The tea also has anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, besides helping in fighting colds.

Drinking orange pekoe tea may also help in:

  • improving digestion and gut health
  • Improved gut health
  • Improving brain health
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Recovering from colds and flu

These health benefits are also provided by green tea, oolong tea, bubble tea, yellow, or pu-erh tea. The benefits are similar because all teas are made from the camellia Sinensis plant.

Orange Pekoe Tea

How to Make Orange Pekoe Tea

I love drinking orange tea and often prepare it myself. You can also easily prepare this flavorful tea whenever you wish to enjoy a cup of aromatic tea. You can follow the following steps:

  • First, boil a cup of filtered water.
  • Submerge the tea leaves in the boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes (use a strainer).
  • Remove leaves or buds, if any before serving.

Try preparing and drinking orange pekoe; it is healthy and aromatic beverages that you can enjoy at any time of the day.

Final Thoughts

The healthy and flavorful orange pekoe tea is not orange. It does not taste like fruit but is a particular grade of black tea. The name does not refer to any specific flavor or variety of tea. The tea has a rich reddish-brown color and full-bodied flavor.

It is often enjoyed with milk but can also be consumed plain. Overall, orange pekoe tea is a popular type of tea enjoyed worldwide.

Orange Pekoe Tea


Is orange pekoe tea good for you?

Orange pekoe tea is made from the young leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant. It contains antioxidants that provide various health benefits, including improved heart health and reduced inflammation. Antioxidants are known to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases as they help fight free radicals in the body.

Is orange pekoe tea good for sore throat?

Orange pekoe tea is helpful in soothing a sore throat due to its warmth and hydration. It has anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve inflammation due to soreness in the throat.

Does orange pekoe tea have any health benefits?

Orange pekoe tea contains antioxidants that can support heart health, reduce inflammation, and offer other health benefits. However, the benefits and results may vary from person to person. Including orange pekoe tea in the daily routine and consuming it as part of a balanced diet will maximize its benefits.

Does orange pekoe tea taste like orange?

Orange pekoe tea does not taste like oranges. The term “orange” refers not to its flavor but to the size and quality of the tea leaves. It has a rich taste, often bold and earthy, the characteristic of black tea.

Does pekoe tea have caffeine?

Yes, pekoe tea contains caffeine. Like many other teas, it is also derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, which naturally contains caffeine. However, the caffeine content can vary but is generally lower than the caffeine content found in coffee.

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