What is Orange Pekoe Anyway?

If you’re new to the world of loose-leaf tea, you may not know that the term orange pekoe (typically pronounced “pea-koh,” but more aptly “peck-oh,” from the Chinese Xiamen pek-ho) has nothing to do with oranges. Contrary to popular belief, Orange Pekoe does not refer to a particular flavor, or even to a specific variety or quality or tea. Orange pekoe is merely a designation of leaf size.

When used outside the context of black-tea grading, the term “pekoe” (or, occasionally, orange pekoe) describes the unopened terminal leaf bud (tips) in tea flushes. Pekoe tea is a fine grade of tea which includes young tea leaves and buds. The tea once handled and brewed has “a rich forest-like scent with a hint of bitterness and a sweet finish.” The orange part of the word is thought to originate from the Dutch East India Company, that tried marketing the tea by associating it with the House of Orange, one of the most respected aristocratic families in the days of the Dutch Republic.

Loose-leaf tea grading terms are typically used for teas from Sri Lanka, India and countries other than China; they are not generally known within Chinese-speaking countries. The grading system is based upon the size of processed and dried black tea leaves.This system has less to do about quality of tea as the appearance of the tea. The top few tea leaves are typically reserved for a tea harvest. The very top buds are of a higher grade. As you go lower down the shrub of the tea plant to the larger leaves, the grade also goes down.

michael-rougier-food-chinese-men-sifting-tea-leaves-on-large-round-bamboo-screens-to-grade-them-by-sizeIf you think of tea grading in terms of using a sifter in the soil to find larger fragments of rock or coins, etc., it may be easier to understand. Because smaller particles steep more quickly, tea leaves are sifted into groups of uniform leaf size. Teas designated OP (for orange pekoe) are comprised of larger leaf particles or whole leaves that will not pass through a sieve of a particular size. BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) designates a grade that is finer than OP. Grades finer than BOP are called fannings, PF for Pekoe Fannings, and the smallest particles are referred to as dust. Dust grades are used primarily in teabags.

The grades for whole leaf orthodox black tea, in ascending order of quality are:

OP (Orange Pekoe)
FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe)
GFOP (Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)
TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)
FTGFOP (Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)
SFTGFOP (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)

TGFOP Assam tea leaves.

TGFOP Assam tea leaves.

11SF002 -SINGBULLI SFTGFOP-1 400X600

SFTGFOP Darjeeling

Sources:
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-pekoe-tea.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_leaf_grading
http://www.artoftea.com/learn_about_tea/sizematters.html
http://www.uptontea.com/shopcart/information/INFOgrading.asp

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Mindfulness and Tea: Remember to Take Time for You!

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As we quickly approach the holiday season, it seems that everyone starts to move at an even more frantic pace. The first day of Chanukah starts at sunset on Wednesday November 27; the night before Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013. It’s never happened before, and it will never happen again. Thanksgiving is falling at the latest possible day it can, only leaving only four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Rush, rush rush.

However, we have to remember to take time for ourselves. Not just now, but every day of the year.

Mindfulness can be defined as “being completely in touch with the present moment and being open to experiences as they come.” Mindfulness has been around for quite some time, but has become more popular, in large part due to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

Recently, Dr. Kabat-Zinn spoke at Harvard Graduate school of Education, indicating that mindfulness is becoming an increasingly important tool in education, from top-level leaders to elementary schoolchildren. We see many business who incorporate mindfulness awareness into their wellness programs in the workplace.

Two great primers on mindfulness can be found here and here.

I’ve been through a couple of mindfulness training exercises over the past year, and it certainly does take practice. However, it’s not difficult to see that if one were to incorporate some kind of mindfulness activity into their everyday life, stress reduction could occur.

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Tea is a great way to introduce mindfulness into your daily routine. Green teas are shown to have high levels of L-theanine, which binds to GABA receptors and induces changes in brain waves indicative of relaxation. Our Serenity herbal blend contains camomile, lemon balm, lemon verbena, linden flower, passion flower and oat straw, all natural stress and anxiety reducers.

I challenge you to give these mindfulness activities a try:

  1. Make and sip tea mindfully. 
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    The enjoyment of tea goes back thousands of years. When you drink tea as a mindfulness ritual, think about the connection to others who have had ceremonial tea over the globe. Create your very own tea ceremony. Boil your water mindfully. Focus on the kettle warming the water as you measure out your loose tea. Listen to the noise the water makes when you pour it into your cup. Watch the steam rise from the kettle. Watch the water turn color as the tea steeps to perfection. Sip your tea mindfully, focusing on the way it feels when you sip it, the warmth it spreads through your body, and the calming effect of its properties. Pay attention, be mindful, and feel the warmth of the cup in your hands. Taste the subtle flavors in each sip. Leave all of your other worries behind. Don’t read e-mail, don’t talk on the phone. Just sit and sip tea. A New Leaf carries some great herbal tisanes to help you relax, and delicious oolongs, black teas, green teas and white teas for that mindfulness release.
  2. Brush your teeth. ToothbrushAndPaste
    I know that when I brush my teeth, I’m usually running through the laundry list of things I need to do before I walk out the door, or thinking of whether or not I’ve gotten everything I needed to get accomplished done before bed. Try, for two solid minutes to focus on each stroke of the toothbrush. Try fully concentrating on the action of brushing, on each stroke of each tooth, going from one side of the mouth to the other. You end up doing a better job, and it helps you realize how much we do on autopilot.
  3. The Game of Five
    Take an opportunity to notice five things in your day that would typically go unnoticed. These could be things you hear, smell, feel or see. For example you might see a tree, listen to the wind, feel your clothes or smell food cooking. Of course, you may already do these things, but are you really aware of these things and the connections they have with your world?
  4. Walk mindfully
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    Oftentimes, especially in bustling cities, people are walking with headphones plugged in to their ears, or texting frantically onto a smart phone. I would challenge you to take a simple mindful walk, either around your block, or something as simple as walking to or from your office each day. Take a few deep breaths, try to be aware of your environment and your internal state (e.g., thoughts, feelings, sensations). Notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground. Notice the comfort (or discomfort) of your shoes. Notice which muscles tense or relax as you walk. Notice where you are stepping, the lightness or forcefulness of each step and the feel of the ground beneath your feet or shoes. If your mind starts to wander to the past or the future, try to bring it back to the present moment. As you walk, what do you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel? How does the air feel on your skin? What do you notice around you? Notice the thoughts that cross your mind as you walk. As you finish your walk, congratulate yourself, no matter how many times your mind was pulled away from the walk.

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IMG_0620Kimberly Orlic, co-founder and chief operating officer of A New Leaf, LLC is a new entrepreneur, with over 25 years’ experience in the workforce. The mother of three daughters, she is an avid tea lover and developed the idea for A New Leaf along with her husband over 15 years ago while obtaining her master of business administration degree. She holds bachelor of arts and master of business administration degrees from Hofstra University. Kimberly has over 15 years of management experience and significant experience in process improvement, systems implementation and enhancements. While at Hofstra University she demonstrated the ability to adapt to changing environments and learn different operations. In every role, she left a better organized and more efficient department. In her most recent role as the University Bulletin Editor, she recognized the potential of digital media and migrated a labor-intensive, print-only process to an efficient print, online, and mobile app product full of previously unavailable features. As a member of Hofstra’s Public Relations department, she was a member of the team that hosted the 2008 Presidential Debate and worked extensively on the program. A New Leaf is her first business venture. As founder, owner, and COO, Kimberly’s responsibilities focus on running the retail operation, marketing, and promotion. 

Steeping the Perfect Cup of Tea

Quite frequently I’m asked if it really matters that people steep their tea properly. My answer is a resounding yes. Without a doubt.

I’ve seen many customers amazed at how precise we tend to be at A New Leaf with the measurement of the proper amount of tea for both our in-store and to-go cups, our proper water temperature, and even the rinsing of our oolong leaves. We also be sure to let our tea drinkers know how long the tea they will be drinking should steep. I can’t stress enough my belief that taking the couple of extra steps certainly makes a difference in your enjoyment of tea.

1. Tea amounts

ImageDifferent types of teas have different densities which can greatly affect the taste of the tea when using the wrong proportions. A leafy white tea is very different from a black tea when it comes to density. One tablespoon of our White Champagne Raspberry weighs 1.5 grams, the same measurement of our Keemun Panda weighs 9 grams. Black teas typically fit better into a tea- or tablespoon, but white teas, like Pai Mu Tan are difficult to measure in a spoon. We realize that not everyone has a gram scale at home, so A New Leaf measures approximately 6 grams of tea for each 12 oz. cup. Keep in mind that high quality loose-leaf teas infuse at a slower rate, as the leaves unfurl and release their flavor into the water.

2. Water Temperature
oggi_red_KettleThere are varying opinions on tea and water temperature. A New Leaf has calibrated filtered water dispensers to steep your tea at the proper temperature. Many of our customers tell us our tea is very hot; however you’re tea would not be as delicious if it were steeped improperly! We recommend:

  • White teas and mate: 170-175 degrees F (let water sit approx. 10 min. in the open kettle)
  • Green teas: 180-185 degrees F (let water sit approx. 5 min. in the open kettle)
  • Oolong teas: 190 degrees F (let water sit approx. 3 min. in the open kettle)
  • Black teas: 205 degrees F (let water sit 1 min. in the open kettle)
  • Herbal tisanes and pu-erh: 212 F (boiling water)

If the water is too cool, no tannins in the tea leaves will be released, resulting in an incomplete flavor. Too hot a temperature, too much tannin is released, often resulting in a metallic or bitter taste.

Never use water that has been boiled previously or that has been sitting around. Always use filtered water when possible.

3. Steep Time
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If you usually leave your tea in your cup for a lot longer than recommended (or until your cup is empty), I would encourage you to follow our recommended steep times;  the taste of your tea will certainly improve. Different teas require different steep times. In general, 5-7 minutes for herbal tisanes and mate, 3-5 minutes for black teas, 3 minutes for green teas, 1-3 minutes for white teas and many oolongs, and as little as 30 seconds for pu-erh. By combining the perfect steep time with the proper water temperature, you’re sure to notice a difference in your cup.

To take the guessing out of water temperatures and steep times, I would recommend the Breville tea maker. This wonderful piece of equipment is the most prized possession in my home kitchen. After measuring your tea, the Breville makes it for you! It’s the best $249 I’ve spent (and use a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon to save!)

IMG_0620Kimberly Orlic, co-founder and chief operating officer of A New Leaf, LLC is a new entrepreneur, with over 25 years’ experience in the workforce. The mother of three daughters, she is an avid tea lover and developed the idea for A New Leaf along with her husband over 15 years ago while obtaining her master of business administration degree. She holds bachelor of arts and master of business administration degrees from Hofstra University. Kimberly has over 15 years of management experience and significant experience in process improvement, systems implementation and enhancements. While at Hofstra University she demonstrated the ability to adapt to changing environments and learn different operations. In every role, she left a better organized and more efficient department. In her most recent role as the University Bulletin Editor, she recognized the potential of digital media and migrated a labor-intensive, print-only process to an efficient print, online, and mobile app product full of previously unavailable features. As a member of Hofstra’s Public Relations department, she was a member of the team that hosted the 2008 Presidential Debate and worked extensively on the program. A New Leaf is her first business venture. As owner, co-founder, and COO, Kimberly’s responsibilities focus on running the retail operation, marketing, and promotion.