Legend has it that the name Gunpowder was given by a young English clerk who thought the tiny rolled green balls looked like gunpowder. The tealeaves are specially selected for quality, size and style. They are then rolled into very small tight nuggets. Gunpowder tea keeps a lot longer than other green teas and is favored because of this characteristic. Chinese exporters recommend gunpowder for iced tea flavored with lemon and sugar.
Gunpowder tea is also very popular in Morocco where the leaves are boiled and mint and sugar are added. Pinhead Gunpowder Pingshui tea comes from the province of Zhejiang across Hangzhou Bay from Shanghai. It was in Hangzhou that Mao Tse Tung (China’s first leader on modern times) first met with Richard Nixon (President of the United States). This 1973 meeting, which included gunpowder tea, was the beginning of normalized relations between China and the United States.
The leaves for Pinhead Gunpowder are only plucked during April and May when the quality of the green leaf is at it’s highest. The leaves are steamed and tightly rolled in a time-honored process. When preparing this tea, part of the ritual is to take two pinches of Pinhead Gunpowder and drop them into a porcelain cup so you hear the jingle and tinkle of the leaves hitting the sides. Boiling water causes them to open up like flowers and sink slowly to the bottom in graceful patterns, which add a dimension of visual pleasure to tea drinking. This gunpowder produces a reasonably strong dark-green brew with a memorable fragrance, a slightly bitter but not unpleasant flavor and a long lasting finish. Gunpowder is more dense than other teas so if you are making a teapot full you only require one or two teaspoons for a teapot.
Chinese researchers have found that gunpowder tea is high in fluoride and known to reduce cavities. They say that a human body requires 1-2 milligrams of fluoride a day. Ten grams of gunpowder tea (enough to make 3 cups of strong tea) can supply this amount. Read more about the benefits of green tea here.
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