Gunpowder Green Tea

Brewing Hints: Brew in water that has been boiled and allowed to cool a little. Infuse for three to five minutes

Leaf: Grey-green rolled leaves that unfurl and acquire a greener hue when infused in hot water

Origin: Zhejiang, China

Characteristics: A slightly cloudy amber liquor with a sweet aroma and a sharp taste

Serving Suggestions: Drink without milk. Good with savoury foods, or as an after-dinner digestif. Outside Europe, this tea is often drunk with white sugar added to sweeten the stringent brew. It can be particularly pleasant on a hot day

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Product Description

Gunpowder tea is a well-known green tea that has proved very popular over the last few years. It gets its name from its resemblance to the explosive and many years ago sailors refused to load it for fear it would go bang. However, ‘Gunpowder’ is a name applied by the Chinese to designate a superior leaf type. Inferior grades of these green teas are called Young Hyson or Twankey (as in Widow!). Our Gunpowder Green Tea has a sharp, pleasing citrusy taste.

Gunpowder tea is one of the best known green teas in the world, it originated from Zhejiang province and the capital, Hangzhou. There are two possible reasons for it being called Gunpowder, the first is its resemblance to early forms of black powder used in explosives (also invented by the Chinese). The second is that the English term may stem from the Mandarin Chinese term for freshly brewed, which is ‘Gang Pao De’ but the word Gunpowder is now used throughout the tea trade to describe clean, tightly-rolled green leaves. I have seen Gunpowder teas produced in Sri Lanka, India, China, Korea and Kenya. This list is not exhaustive, most tea producing nations will now produce a green Gunpowder tea.

Gunpowder is one of the top leaf grades for green tea with inferior grades being called Young Hyson (or just Hyson) and then lower still Twankey. Inferior grade leaf teas produce harsh flavours and cloudy liquors and therefore are often blended with flavours to add appeal and value, to what would otherwise be a cheap product.

Brewing or steeping Gunpowder green tea is different from brewing standard black tea. Ideally, the water temperature for green teas should be 84-85 degrees centigrade and should be brewed or steeped for 2 to 3 minutes – please note Japanese Green Teas often require colder water and shorter brewing times. Longer brewing times and hotter water can scold the leaves and cause bitter flavours to creep in.

Production volumes [source International Tea Committee]:
China produces 782,400 tonnes of green tea per year and exports 218,700 tonnes of this to the rest of the world. Please also note that intensive tea growing is not widely used in China and therefore they are producing this on just four harvests per year, unlike the 8 to 10 harvests that is common to find in Africa, India etc.

Our Gunpowder Green tea:
We like to try and keep as near to the original as possible here at Northern Tea Merchants, so we buy our teas from companies who operate from Hangzhou where green tea was born – allegedly tea leaves were first brewed there in 2737BC. One of the most original green teas we sell is the Longjing Dragonwell Sencha and our gunpowder originates from the same geographical origin but is manufactured in a different way. Arguably Gunpowder tea is the most popular tea in the world and we have seen Chinese Gunpowder being enjoyed in rural West Africa, the Bazaar’s and Souks of North Africa (see also Moroccan Mint Green Tea) as well as in some of the finest tea houses in Paris, London and the rest of the UK.



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