No. 1 Tippy Orthodox GFOP Darjeeling. What the hell does that mean?
First, “Tippy”: tips, or buds, are the small unopened leaves of the tea plant – they are considered higher quality than the larger leaves of the plant and thus may be more expensive.
Next, “Orthodox”: recognizing how the tea is picked – either ‘orthodox’ (by hand) or ‘crush-tear-curl/CTC’ (by machine).
Third, “GFOP”: meaning Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. -FOP signifies the highest grade of orthodox tea. The prefix Golden may be swapped with Tippy, Finest Tippy, etc. and usually depends on where the tea was grown.
Lastly, “Darjeeling”: simply a designation that the tea was grown in the Darjeeling district in Northern India. Darjeeling teas are usually, not always, black teas and may be categorized by their ‘flush’, which is determined by when in the year the tea was harvested.
Having said this, the tea pours an amber base with a golden gradient around the rim of the mug – a typical black tea coloring. The tea’s distinctive vegetal aroma reminds the taster of a time before the distractions and responsibilities of technology, a time when we took up our plows and returned to find a pot of this delicate, leafy tea on the woodstove next to the neatly stacked pile of logs from the prior day’s work.
Upon the first sip, the tea glides over the tongue, careful not to injure the tastebuds, and then leaks down the back of the throat. Akin to the popular Samuari chai blend at Teavana, the gentleness of this tea may appeal to a broad range of palates and may be comfortably used as an everyday breakfast tea. Lastly, the tea finishes just as neatly as it enters, providing a satisfying wetting to the mouth, and leaves the taster reaching for his next sip.