Black tea grades
by John B
One of the interesting things about black tea is that it varies a lot in quality. A popular tea type it can be produced by different means. One is orthodox, the other is the CTC method.
So called full leaf or orthodox black teas have many health benefits so I have learned, and these are called other than the former, often either golden, red in China or in countries where the word black refers to puerh - although that's a different tea altogether.
Orthodox black tea grades are often flowery, tippy or golden or so called in nomenclature.
Average grade or cheaper ones may be a broken leaf, although this can vary in quality from closer orthodox in which it is still all right, to others being closer to fannings/dust which are not so good.
Many cheaper black teas (economy- commercial breakfast teas and chais) are not the fresh black leaf, although actually can consist of fannings and dust left over from the tea production. These often go into teabags and can be sold loose - often by companies such as Tetleys, PG Tips and Twinings and probably Red Rose and such vendors. The CTC industry today may even be applying to cheaper green and herbal teas.
Whereas an orthodox black tea can go at a good value, the fannings and dust grades are often cheap and go at competent prices where they are bagged and bought up by wholesalers who can sell them at competent value to buyers. Most tea producing countries produce both orthodox and CTC grades - although the return on the fannings and dust grades is so low it is not profitable to these farmers in 3rd world countries who now have to shift to orthodox production for better value prices on the tea. Still how the market reacts will be yet to be seen.