Gunpowder green tea is a Chinese variety of tea, produced in the Zheijiang Province. It takes its name because it is rolled into very tight, small round pellets – so it looks like grains of black powder. Legend has it that sailors used to refuse to take the tea on their ships, because they didn’t trust the merchants who promised them the tea wouldn't explode!
The tea does 'explode' in a way, but thankfully not quite so violently. When the leaves are steeped in hot water, the tiny pellet bursts open to reveal a long leaf. It’s very satisfying to watch! The name 'gunpowder' is also derived from the subtle smoky taste of the brewed tea.
In Chinese, gunpowder green tea is called ‘pearl tea’ or ‘bead tea.’
Brewing Green Tea
Many people say they don’t like the taste of green tea, as it’s too bitter. Properly brewed green tea should not taste like bitter, but should have a fresh, delicate, grassy or peppery taste. Any bitterness is a result of a poor quality of leaf, or the wrong brewing process!
The ideal temperature to brew green tea is around 70°C. Boiling water damages the leaf and creates a bitter taste. So if you’re making green tea at home, allow your kettle to cool for a couple of minutes before pouring, and you should notice a big improvement on its taste.
Like all teas, green tea has some great health benefits. In fact, it’s widely known for being one of the most healthy drinks out there! Green tea is particularly good at boosting your immune system, helping to fend off colds and flu – so it’s a good choice for this time of year.
It’s also been linked with a long life, following studies in Japan. A cuppa a day keeps the doctor away, as they say!