Because similar-size tea leaves brew at the same speed (larger, coarser leaves take longer), tea leaves are graded and sorted by size. Orange pekoe is the grade for the smallest leaves, which are picked from the top of the plant. "Pekoe" describes medium-size, slightly coarser tea leaves. See also tea.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.