Why you should never order an Orange Pekoe tea in public

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Why you should never order an Orange Pekoe tea in public

If you are ever in Seattle coffee house and order an "Expresso" you may get a nasty look. As I found out first hand by a barista, there is no "X" in Espresso. A lot of products have these little quirks where "people in the know" will frown upon you if you make these mistakes. One of these quirks in the tea world is saying you like "Orange Pekoe" tea (pronounced "Orange Peck-o"). The reason behind this is Orange Pekoe in its most basic sense means tea. Not a particular tea, but every type of tea.

Orange Pekoe is a leaf size

The term orange pekoe is used for determining the size and style of leaf. Sometimes you may see a bunch of numbers and letters after a term, such as FTGFOP1 - which stands for Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (very finest) These rating are very confusing and they really aren't too accurate as far as determining the quality of the tea. So for now the important thing to remember is that the OP part of FTGFOP1 stands for Orange Pekoe, and there is not too much else too it, especially with the flavor.

Orange Pekoe has nothing orange about it.

The "orange" part comes from the Dutch royal House of Orange-Nassau. A large player in the tea trade in the 1600's was the Dutch East India Company. The belief is that in order to make the tea sound more elegant to its European customers, they named it after the largest royal Dutch house at the time, the House of Orange-Nassau. Or for short, the House of Orange.

So why does everyone think Orange Pekoe is a type of tea?

This is simply due to some clever marketing. Sir Thomas Lipton thought it would be a clever idea to market his teas as orange pekoe due to the cool sounding name. Well I think it is safe to say it worked, and he did such a good job at it he is still convincing people 100 years later. So if you are out and want to order a nice tea, and you think of orange pekoe, just order a "black tea" This way the tea police won't pop up and correct you in public. Now if I can only keep the coffee police off my back for slipping in that X in espresso...


1 Response

Camille Hallstrom
Camille Hallstrom

August 04, 2016

I sort of have the same reaction to the word “chai” being used to indicate a flavor of tea. “Chai” simply means “tea” in many languages of the world: Swahili, Luganda, Bari, Slovak, Czech, Russian, Hindi, Urdu, etc. Tea (or “chai”) in East Africa is often served spiced, maybe with milk and sugar already added. As this preparation has become popular here, we have called it “chai.” But all we are saying when we ask for “chai tea” is “tea tea.”

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