The Mysteries of Tea~Pearl Gunpowder

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photograph by Melissa Placzek

:: Tea of the Week ::

Pearl Gunpowder-Temple of Heaven Grade

(Zu Cha)

This week I’ll be talking a little bit about a common Chinese green (unfermented) tea called “gunpowder.” Almost all gunpowder teas are made in Zhejiang province. They’re called gunpowder because of their appearance; Tightly rolled little “pearls” or “pellets” that look like gunpowder. One of the most common grades of this tea is the “Temple of Heaven”  which I am most use to. This is Jeff’s favorite tea and we usually have a huge tin of it in our kitchen.

I like to watch this tea brew in a clear tea pot. The pretty little pearls slowly expand in hot water and create a warm, amber-colored tea. The flavor is smooth and strong when brewed correctly. I think it has a sort of “malty” flavor. I especially love this tea with Chinese foods containing ginger. Noodle bowls, wontons, eggrolls and Peking duck or chicken.

Measure 3 grams of tea (a scant demitasse spoonful) to every 8 oz of water. Never exceed 3 minutes brewing time for this tea or it will become bitter.

Here is a list of the different types of gunpowder…

Pingshui Gunpowder : The original and most common variety of Gunpowder tea with larger pearls, better color, and a more aromatic infusion, which is commonly sold as Temple of Heaven Gunpowder or Pinhead Gunpowder.

Formosa Gunpowder : A Gunpowder style tea grown in Taiwan it has a different aroma than the pinhead Gunpowder grown in mainland China. Formosa gunpowder is actually not a true green tea but a rolled oolong.

Ceylon Gunpowder : A Gunpowder variant grown in Sri Lanka. “Oaky” characteristics.

:: Tea Fact ::

Water for tea-

The water you use for making tea plays an important role in the brewing process and the flavor of your tea. Spring water is the best water for brewing a brisk, brightly flavored cup. It’s naturally pure and high in oxygen. Hard water, or water high in calcium, is the worst possible water for brewing tea. (If you get ‘scum’ on top of your tea after brewing, calcium is the culprit.) If you have hard water or well water, you might want to consider buying gallons of spring water especially for brewing tea. The extra expense will be worth it once you see how much better tea tastes when brewed with the good stuff 😉

If you have a special “Reverse Osmosis” water system, you’re in business. This is also very good water with the perfect pH for brewing tea.







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