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Pinhead Gunpowder Green Tea (ounce)
Pinhead Gunpowder Tea is a type of green tea that is indigenous to the Chinese province of Zhejiang. Each leaf has been rolled into a small round pellet which helps retain the flavor and aroma of the leaves. This shaping method of rolling tea is most often applied either to dried green tea or Oolong tea. This type of rolled production dates back to the Tang Dynasty 618 - 907. As with most Chinese teas there is a story. It is believed that Gunpowder tea got its English name in the 18th century when a British clerk, noticed its similarity with gunpowder pellets. Other tea historians say it was from British sailors who were shipping this tea from China to the west that gave it this name. Gunpowder tea was a popular, expensive import into our country in 1700s and was first prized first by wealthy colonists and then it spread to the middle classes as well. In China gunpowder tea is not called gunpowder or gunpowder green, but instead is known as "zhu cha", which translates to pearl tea. It is interesting that the eastern perception of this tea is of a delicate pearl while the western perception is of gunpowder. While classic gunpowder green tea refers to the Zhejiang Province origin and the specific smoky flavor profile, there are numerous teas that are rolled into the pearl, or gunpowder form. Today Gunpowder tea is not only produced in the Zhejiang Province, but also in the Chinese provinces of Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong and Hunan. Our Pinhead Gunpowder Pingshui tea comes from the province of Zhejiang across Hangzhou Bay from Shanghai (Pingshui is an urban town in this province). It was in Hangzhou that Mao Tse Tung (China’s leader at the time) met with Richard Nixon in 1973. At this meeting gunpowder tea was served and this was the start of the normalization process between China and the US. Pingshui Gunpowder tea has strict picking standards, as a bud and two leaves, about 1.18 in (or 3 cm) in length with a neat uniform presentation. The bud and leaves for our Pinhead Gunpowder Tea are only plucked during April and May when the quality of this green leaf tea is at its highest. The leaves are steamed and tightly rolled in a time-honored process. When plucking the leaf for Gunpowder tea, it is critical that the pickers be experienced, as torn leaves create problems during the rolling phase, and irregularly-sized leaves will need to be removed, as it’s very difficult to roll uniform pellets from imperfect leaves. Today lesser quality Gunpowder tea leaves are often rolled by machines. When purchasing gunpowder tea it is critical to look for shiny pellets, which indicate that the tea is relatively fresh. Pellet size is also a way to determine quality as larger pellets signify a lower quality tea. High grade gunpowder tea will have small, tightly rolled pellets. Gunpowder tea is among the most forgiving and easiest of green teas to infuse. It’s easy to measure, tolerates a wide range of water temperatures and is fun to watch steep. Gunpowder tea can typically be steeped for a second infusion, depending on the duration of the first infusion. Part of the tea ritual when preparing Gunpowder Tea is to take two pinches of pearls and drop them into a porcelain cup so that you hear the tinkle and jingle of the leaves as they strike the sides of the cup. Hot water causes these leaves to slowly open like flowers and then slowly sink to the bottom in graceful patterns, which add an enjoyable visual dimension to tea drinking. Pinhead Gunpowder Tea produces a reasonably strong full-bodied dark green cup with a hint of smokiness, slightly bitter with a memorable fragrance and a long lasting finish. Because Gunpowder Tea is denser than other teas you only need one or two teaspoons for a whole pot of tea. Steep at 180° for 2-5 minutes. Caffeine level is low. 1 oz of tea produces approximately 12 cups.