The world of green tea gives a lot of itself. On this occasion, we return to our beloved China to talk about one of its endless teas: the one known (at least in the West) as Gunpowder.
The leaves of this tea are characterized by a peculiar rounded shape, which makes it resemble a pellet. If you have been to Morocco, you will most likely have tried some type of Gunpowder, as this is often the variety used, in combination with mint, to prepare their typical Moorish tea.
Let’s review the characteristics of this tea.
What is Gunpowder?
Gunpowder is one of the many green teas produced in China. During its elaboration process, its leaves are rolled giving rise to its characteristic appearance of small dark balls.
Although Gunpowder is currently produced in different countries, its origin was the province of Zhejiang, China, one of the largest tea producers in the world.
As with other varieties, it is possible to find different qualities of this tea from Camellia sinensis, the tea tree. Gunpowder can be produced from younger or mature leaves, harvested at different times of the year, and sourced from different regions and countries.
History of Gunpowder Tea
As often happens when we talk about teas, the story does not have 100% reliable sources. In this case, the Gunpowder is believed to have been born more than a thousand years ago, during the time of the Tang Dynasty. If so, it would be one of the oldest types of tea, as well as the first green variety to be exported.
Legend has it that already during the 8th and 9th centuries, this variety of tea was used as a sacred herb in China. However, it was not until the 18th century that it began to become more popular when it was introduced to the court of Sultan Moulay Ismail.
In the early 1600s, it began to be exported and was popularized under the names Green Pearl and Hyson in Europe and America a century later. At some point, Gunpowder reached the Maghreb and was used there to prepare mint tea. In fact, even today this variety is used for the traditional preparation that is consumed as a social ritual among families, friends and even to welcome tourists.
Gunpowder tea production
The elaboration process begins, as you can imagine, with the harvesting of the tea leaves. In this particular case, young shoots and mature leaves are collected.
Once collected, the leaves undergo the process of “killing the green” to stop the natural oxidation process. This consists of a light wok cooking. Let us remember that some kinds of tea, such as black tea, undergo controlled oxidation, but in the case of green tea it is stopped early.
After cooking, the tea leaves are rolled. To prepare the Gunpowder, they are rolled manually or mechanized and take the form of gunpowder, that is, small balls. After this technique, they are dried to maintain their flavour, color and aroma.
Does it have caffeine?
Yes, Gunpowder has caffeine just like any other variety of green tea. However, the amount of caffeine will depend on the leaves that were used in its preparation.
The young shoots and leaves usually have a higher concentration of caffeine than the more mature ones. As Gunpowder is made from all types of leaves (unlike other teas where they are selected), the amount of caffeine in the tea can vary.
If you see small, bright green leaves when looking at this tea, you can consider that it will have more caffeine than larger, darker colored leaves.
Green tea became popular in the West as the magic formula to lose those extra kilos that bother us so much, but what is gunpowder for?
Like other varieties of tea, it contains an interesting dose of antioxidants that can act as protectors of the body, preventing the development of different diseases. It would then serve to reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease and even cancer.
On the other hand, it has antiviral and antibacterial effects that make it a good option to combat all kinds of fungi, viruses and bacteria. For example, it would be useful for fighting the flu, herpes, Helicobacter pylori, and Candida albicans.
The taste of Gunpowder
Gunpowder is a green tea with character. Its aromas are intense and usually provide smoky, sweet, minty and sometimes slightly spicy touches.
Its infusion stands out for having a remarkable body and moderate astringency. In the cup, it shows a greenish and golden color.
How to prepare a perfect cup of Gunpowder?
As always when we prepare green tea, it is necessary to pay special attention to the temperature of the water and the time of infusion to prevent it from becoming bitter. Let’s see how to prepare it step by step.
- 4g Gunpowder leaves
- 1 cup of water
- Heat the water to 85°C.
- Add the tea leaves and let infuse for 3 minutes.
- Strain the tea and drink.
Tea leaves can be steeped more than once. However, you will need to slightly increase the resting time to get the same flavor. Try increasing about 30 seconds for each infusion process that the leaves go through.
The next time you visit your store, ask for this tasty green tea and surprise your family and friends with a delicious cup of Gunpowder.