Leaf grade is based on the size of the leaf. After the fermentation process is completed, ripe pu-erh is separated into different grades. Each different leaf grade will impart a slightly different taste. When ripe tea cakes, bricks and tuos are pressed they are usually a blend of different leaf grades. Blending is used to bring more complexity to the overall taste of the finished product.
Leaf grades from smallest to largest: Gong Ting, Te Ji, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9
Other by-products of ripe fermentation might include: Zao Xiang Ye (or Cu Ye, large coarse leaf), Cha Tou (tea nugget), and small broken grade leaf which is often sold as a cheaper form of Gong Ting.