Gunpowder green tea are green tea leaves tightly rolled into “pellets” instead of crushing green tea leaves, maintaining the healthy green tea ingredients.
Because the leaves are rolled, they stay fresh longer than other loose (green) teas as well.
The more they shine, the fresher the tea leaves so keep that in mind when buying this type of green tea. Also look at the size of the pellets; smaller means better quality.
This type of green tea originates from the Zhejiang Province of China and used to be rolled by hand. Today, the machine took over but high-quality gunpowder green tea is still rolled by hand.
The tightly rolled leaves resemble gun powder…
This explains the name!
Others argue the name comes from the smoky flavor or because these pellets explode when pouring hot water over them.
Whatever the reason of the name, one thing we know is that it’s a popular type of green tea, existing for hundreds of years already.
As mentioned above, it has a smoky, rich taste; ideal for in the afternoon or as an alternative to coffee since gunpowder green tea is higher in caffeine than other green tea.
It has a much stronger and distinctive flavor than Sencha green tea.
You only need one or two teaspoons for a tea pot. Steep the tea leaves in hot water at 158°F (or 70°C) to 176°F (80°C) during one minute for the first two servings; steep longer after these first servings.
Once introduced in North Africa gunpowder has since become part of North African culture. In Morocco people pour hot water into a tea kettle with gunpowder and steep it so as to open the leaves. Then, they throw away the first serving (too bitter), add fresh mint and honey or sugar to the opened tea leaves, then pouring the rest of the water into the kettle. This makes a very sweet tea.