Last time I wrote some more on the Indian tea grading system. Assuming you read that article, you are familiar with the term "orange pekoe" as a tea grade. Perhaps you thought to yourself "well that's a pretty out-there term, why is it called orange pekoe?" Perhaps you didn't care, either way I'm writing about it. First "pekoe". Very young tea leaves are covered with a silvery down, and the word "pekoe" probably roots from a corruption of the Chinese word for "silver-haired" (Kuo P'o'). So what's with the "orange"? As tea drinkers know, orange pekoe tea does not taste like oranges, although some think that "orange" is a reference to an old Chinese practice of blending tea with orange blossoms. Others believe that "orange" refers to the color of the infusion being more orange in color - as the younger leaves are more orange in color. Perhaps more likely however, "orange" refers to the royal Dutch House of Orange.

   The Dutch played a major role in bringing tea to the West, and the Dutch East India Company was the first large tea trading company in Europe, starting to ship tea to Europe in the early 1600's. In 1688, William of Orange, invited by English aristocrats, invaded England in a coup against James II and thus became William III of England, resulting in the merger of the English East India Company and the Dutch East India Company. It would sensibly follow that the name of the royal House of Orange was honorifically used to identify the higher quality tea.