It doesn’t have to be fireworks night to enjoy Gunpowder Tea. Indeed, you may wish to start autumnal celebrations off with a bang using this brew. Or, more likely, you simply want to enjoy it year-round because of all it has to offer. Either way, you needn’t look any further than The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.
Gunpowder Green Tea, in particular, has existed for over a thousand years. Even today, it continues to increase in popularity at a rapid rate. However, like many Teas, there is much mystery surrounding its origins.
In this blog, we will answer some of your frequently asked questions. This includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- “What is Gunpowder Green Tea?”
- “What is Gunpowder Black Tea?”
- “What is Formosa Gunpowder Tea?”
- “What is Moroccan Mint Tea?”
- “Are there Gunpowder Tea Health Benefits?”
Have any other questions? Read on, and we may just answer them. Otherwise, contact us to find out more information on Gunpowder Tea!
What is Gunpowder Tea?
There is no mistaking Chinese Gunpowder Tea when it comes to its unique and somewhat strange appearance before brewing. For its creation, producers use Tea leaves and young buds. These are then rolled into small, round pellets resembling the lead shots used in early muskets. Could this be how Gunpowder Tea got its name? Maybe, but no one knows for sure.
The Chinese call Gunpowder Tea “zhū chá”. This means “Pearl Tea, or “Bead Tea”. Its English name, meanwhile, allegedly derives from an English port clerk who once described how the Tea’s pre-brewed appearance looked like gunpowder.
Nevertheless, this isn’t the only theory. Another suggestion is that the name stems from the Mandarin Chinese phrase “freshly brewed”. When spoken in its correct dialect, the phrase “freshly brewed” sounds like the English word, “gunpowder”. Finally, there is the suggestion that Gunpowder Tea owes its name to the ‘crackling’ sound it makes when brewed. Some say this is somewhat similar to the ‘crack’ of a musket.
Which story is true? Take your pick, because it’s anyone’s guess!
History of Gunpowder Green Tea
Historians mostly agree that Gunpowder Tea originated from the Zhejiang province of China during the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). To this day, Zhejiang remains one of the most important Chinese provinces for Gunpowder Tea production. Other provinces known for producing Gunpowder Tea include Guangdong, Anhui, Hunan and Fujian.
In its early days, workers made Gunpowder Tea solely by hand. Nowadays, production often involves specially-designed machines to keep up with ever-growing demand. The exception to this rule comes in the form of higher-grade Gunpowder Teas.
Here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, we stock many Gunpowder Teas, including those deemed “higher-grade”.
What is Formosa Gunpowder Tea?
Although Gunpowder Tea originates from China, it isn’t the only place to produce it. Indeed, Taiwan now creates its own Formosa Gunpowder Tea. While people have inhabited the island for at least 5,000 years, Formosa Gunpowder Tea is a relatively ‘new’ invention.
During the 14th Century, Portuguese sailors dubbed what we today know as Taiwan as “Formosa”, which means “beautiful island”. This beautiful island, located 100 miles from the southeast coast of mainland China, started producing Tea in only the mid-19th Century. This coincided with Chinese Qing dynasty rule (1644-1912 CE), a time of great political upheaval.
A British merchant and entrepreneur named John Dodd (1839-1907) essentially kicked-started the Formosan (now Taiwanese) Tea Industry during the 1860s. He transported Tea bushes from the Chinese Fujian province to Taiwan with his associate, Li Chunsheng.
Together, John Dodd and Li Chunsheng persuaded local farmers to increase the cultivation of Tea by providing financial support. This, in turn, gave rise to the establishment of numerous plantations and factories in and around the Formosan capital of Taipei.
The Tea movement in Formosa during the late 1800s coincided with mass-immigration from China’s eastern mainland provinces. These immigrants came equipped with centuries of Tea-producing knowledge passed down through generations.
During this time, and even still today, Oolong Tea production reigned supreme in Formosa/Taiwan. Not far behind, however, was (and still is) Formosa Gunpowder Tea.
After the Qing dynasty’s defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), China ceded full sovereignty of Formosa to the Empire of Japan. Under Japanese Imperialist rule, further industrialisation of Taiwan saw many family Tea gardens converted into mechanised factory farms.
The Japanese introduced Tea Institutes. They also offered training to aspiring Tea masters while endorsing Black Tea production. Formosa Gunpowder Tea, meanwhile, maintained a modest output during this relatively brief conquest.
China reclaimed Taiwan after the end of the Second World War (1939-1945). This led to the return of widespread Green Tea production instead of Black Tea production. To this day, Taiwan produces more Green Tea (including Gunpowder Green Tea) and Oolong Tea than it does Black Tea.
The tropical and subtropical climates of Taiwan remain perfect Tea-growing conditions. Indeed, some consider Formosa Gunpowder Tea of better quality than Chinese Gunpowder Tea. But it’s also worth noting that Taiwanese production mirrors that of mainland Chinese production when it comes to Gunpowder Tea. This means withering, steaming, rolling and drying.
Controversy exists around whether Taiwan is a part of China or an independent state. Despite this political uncertainty (which we shall not comment on), there is no denying the extraordinary taste and aroma of Formosa Gunpowder Tea. Most connoisseurs describe it as having a lighter taste than Chinese Gunpowder, combined with slightly smoky undertones.
Moroccan Mint Tea and Gunpowder Tea?
Moroccan Mint Tea is the national drink of Morocco. It is also known as “Maghrebi Mint Tea”, “Sahrawi Mint Tea” and “Touareg”. To make it, producers combine Chinese Gunpowder Green Tea with either peppermint or spearmint.
For hundreds of years, this beverage has played a vital role in Moroccan tradition and culture, though is likewise popular in many other North African and Arabian countries, as well as Spain and even southern France.
According to some records, Moroccan Mint Tea surfaced some time during the late 17th Century or early 18th Century. One story suggests that its creation came about from an intervention by the British monarch, Queen Anne, who, to ensure the release of captured British subjects in Morocco, sent a batch of Green Tea leaves to Sultan Moulay Ismail.
No one knows for sure whether there is any truth to this tale. However, before this period, Moroccans enjoyed only Herbal Teas made from ingredients such as sage, wormwood and, indeed, mint. One way or another, mint and Gunpowder Green Tea were destined to meet. One way or another, history gave rise to Gunpowder and Mint Tea.
Today, Morocco is one of the world’s largest importers of Chinese Green Tea. This, of course, is for the making of this mouthwatering brew!
Moroccan Mint Tea Culture:
Traditionally, Moroccan Mint Tea signifies hospitality and affection. This is to such an extent that if you’re indeed lucky enough to be invited into the home of a Moroccan, you will most likely experience this hospitality and affection yourself.
Before receiving a cup (or three) of Moroccan Mint Tea, however, an almost ritualistic Tea-preparing ‘ceremony’ must take place. For this, most Moroccan hosts adhere to the saying “Insha Allah”, which in the context of brewing up Moroccan Mint Tea, essentially means “with God willing”, all good things will come with time.
Creating this fascinating beverage is an art-form passed down through many generations. The male “head” of the family usually conducts the ceremony. However, as of 2019, there are, thankfully, notable exceptions to this rule.
As well as the Tea itself, the host should possess beautifully-crafted and specially-designed Moroccan Teaware so as to uphold tradition. This includes a tin, brass, aluminium or silver Teapot with an intricately-made handle cover capable of isolating the heat when pouring.
Additionally, these Teapots may also have plated gold or gold motifs/decorations. This, however, very much depends on the household’s ‘social status’. Alongside the Teapot, a host will likely own several similarly ornate Tea glasses placed upon a tray.
Moroccan Mint Tea Ceremony:
Hosts begin the so-called “ceremony” by rinsing the Teapot with boiling water. This is followed by the adding of the Tea leaves and mint to the pot. Some may even add sugar to cater to the Moroccan sweet tooth, followed naturally by more boiling water for infusion.
After a few minutes of steeping, the host stirs the Tea to ensure flavour and consistency. Meanwhile, the guest (that’s you) should have been made to feel comfortable, most likely in another room. At this stage, the host returns from the kitchen carrying the tray adorned with the long-spouted Teapot and several drinking glasses.
The next step takes impeccable precision as the host proceeds to pour the Moroccan Mint Tea into the empty glasses from a height of at least 12 inches (approx 30 centimetres). This indicates sublime experience in the art while simultaneously creating a thin layer of foam on the surface of the Tea. Should there be no form, the host will usually make a second attempt with a fresh batch of Tea.
If everything goes to plan, then all that remains to do is enjoy a cup of this flavoursome beverage with the company of new friends. Just be sure not to refuse this humble invitation otherwise you may not have such an invitation ever again! Moroccans do not take kindly to impoliteness.
Benefits of Gunpowder Tea
A significant amount of speculation surrounding the Tea’s origins, with indeed very little credible information found on the internet outside of conjecture. One thing we know for sure, however, is that Gunpowder Tea benefits are real when included in an already-healthy and active lifestyle.
Gunpowder Green Tea, like any other Green Tea, contains a wealth of antioxidants. Most notably, it boasts an abundance of polyphenols - specifically polyphenolic catechins. One can further sub-categorise these polyphenolic catechins, the most vital one being that of Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Not only can EGCG combat free radicals in the body, but it also provides the Tea with its characteristic colour and flavour.
Gunpowder Black Tea, meanwhile, contains antioxidant compounds such as theaflavin and thearubigin. These two components, although slightly less beneficial than EGCG, can likewise combat free radicals in the body.
Ultimately, both Gunpowder Green Tea and Gunpowder Black Tea can reduce the risks of developing many chronic conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even, very potentially, cancer.
And this is just the beginning. Gunpowder Green Tea, in particular, has the backing of much of modern science. This is owing to a multitude of research studies which have proven many Gunpowder Green Tea benefits.
So, what can these Gunpowder Tea benefits do for you? Try improved cardiovascular health; reduced risks of diabetes; a boosted metabolism; enhanced cognitive function; immune system support; stress relief and much, much more.
Depending on whether you choose Gunpowder Green Tea, Gunpowder Black Tea or even the little-heard-of Gunpowder Oolong Tea, you may find that your quality of life improves in small yet significant ways after frequent consumption!
Let’s explore these Gunpowder Tea benefits in more depth:
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Reduced levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the endothelium lining of blood vessels is one of the leading causes of atherosclerosis, a chronic disease related to cardiovascular health.
Flavonoids found in Gunpowder Tea, meanwhile, can improve endothelial function and flow-mediated dilation (FMD). This is because this green leaf Tea improves bioactivity of the endothelium-derived vasodilator, (“vasodilation” refers to the widening of blood vessels) nitric oxide, by enhancing its synthesis, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The many different forms of cardiovascular disease likewise contribute to oxidative stress. This, in turn, disrupts the balance between ‘NO’ and reactive oxygen. As stated previously, this beverage can combat this stress through its work in neutralising free radicals.
However, it’s important to recognise that 10% of global deaths are due to dietary risk factors and physical inactivity. The frequent consumption of this loose leaf tea has minimal effects without taking these factors into account.
Improved Cognitive Function
Black Gunpowder Tea reigns supreme when it comes to enhanced cognitive function. Many believe that drinking just two to three cups of any Black Tea variety a day could reduce the risks of exhibiting the early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
In Britain, an estimated 750,000 people suffer from these conditions every day. However, with 168 million cups of Black Tea consumed in the UK on a daily basis, there may be a new potential solution. This is according to new research conducted by the University of Singapore.
In this latest study, 2,500 people aged 55 or over underwent a test to measure their cognitive function. Researchers repeated the test two years later, discovering that those who drunk 2-3 cups of Black Tea daily reduced the risks of cognitive decline by 55%. Those who drunk 6-10 cups a day, on the other hand, reduced the risks by up to 63%.
What about Gunpowder Green Tea? In one study conducted at the University of Basel, Switzerland, Prof. Stefan Borgwardt from the Psychiatric University Clinics found that extracts of Green Tea increased the brain’s effective connectivity. This refers to the causal influence that one brain area exerts over another.
The effect of this connectivity also led to cognitive improvement as proven by volunteers who, after consuming the extract, tested significantly better for memory tasks. Put simply, drinking either Gunpowder Green Tea or Gunpowder Black Tea could keep your noggin’ in check!
Immune System Health
Feeling a little ‘under the weather’? Consider drinking Gunpowder Green Tea alongside other cold and flu remedies. Studies have long suggested that this Tea can help relieve symptoms of the common cold and influenza.
Some have even gone as far as to suggest that it can stop minor illnesses from manifesting in the first place.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition saw participants split into two groups. The first group consumed Green Tea capsules while the second group received a placebo twice daily for three months.
The results determined that the Green Tea group reduced the risks of experiencing cold or flu symptoms by 32%. Furthermore, the group experienced higher levels of illness-fighting gamma-delta T cells compared to the placebo group.
Improved Oral Health
Much to the surprise of many, Gunpowder Black Tea may help in maintaining that teeth you would be proud of. This is due to a fascinating collaborative study conducted in conjunction with the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa, USA, and the Institute of Odontology at Göteborg University in Sweden.
The American division of the study, led by professor Christine Wu of the University of Illinois, saw participants use Black Tea to rinse their mouth with for 30 seconds, five times, and waiting three minutes between each rinse. This concept simulated the effect of sipping the average cup of Tea. The Swedish division of the study, meanwhile, saw test subjects rinse their mouth with Black Tea for one minute, ten times a day.
Both co-operating studies discovered that the more participants rinsed, the more their plaque and bacteria levels fell. This is because the Polyphenolic compounds present in Black Tea can kill or suppress cavity-causing bacteria from either growing or producing acid. The Tea also affected the bacterial enzymes and prevented the formation of the sticky-like material that binds plaque to teeth.
Gunpowder Green Tea could also offer similar qualities. One study conducted at the University of Fukuoka, Japan, led by Dr Yoshihiro Shimazaki, saw male participants aged between 49 and 59 examined on three indicators of periodontal disease: periodontal pocket depth (PD), clinical attachment loss (CAL) of gum tissue, and bleeding on probing (BOP) of the gum tissue.
Researchers, including Dr Shimazaki, noted that for every one cup of Green Tea consumed per day, there was a decrease in all three indicators. This ultimately established a lower incidence of periodontal disease in those subjects who drank Green Tea on a regular basis.
How does this work? Thank EGCG (again!). According to research, EGCG, among many other qualities, can reduce inflammation in the body. By interfering with the body's inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria, Green Tea may help promote periodontal health.
Once again, the high concentration of EGCG in Gunpowder Green Tea holds centre stage. This time, it is helping one to reach their much-desired weight loss goal. This is because EGCG can have a stimulating effect on the metabolism.
Every time you eat, enzymes in the body’s cells break down food and turn it into energy. Broady, the metabolism is the process of food-energy conversion responsible for this. The faster the metabolism runs, the easier it is for the body to burn calories. And the more calories burnt, the easier it is to drop those pesky pounds!
Providing one eats healthily and exercises frequently, Gunpowder Green Tea can boost the metabolism. This ultimately helps the body to burn fat quicker and more efficiently. In other words, it supports the metabolism in its essential work.
It’s also worth noting that this Tea contains very few calories. This makes it an excellent alternative to sugary and fatty beverages such as soft drinks. Most types of Green Tea, including this one, contain no more than two calories per 200 ml serving. This is less than wine (160 kcals), beer (180 kcals) and cider (220 kcals). It also contains fewer calories than other healthy consumables such as bananas (105 calories), kiwis (93 kcals), plums (91 kcals) and even a small apple (52 kcals).
Moroccan Mint Health Benefits
The Peppermint found in Moroccan Mint can offer outstanding anti-inflammatory properties. This, in turn, can improve digestive health, among other qualities.
In a study published in the January 2004 issue of Digestion, participants suffering from an upset stomach consumed peppermint extract for four weeks. The results established a 43% lower risk of developing certain gastrointestinal complications.
Another study, published in 2010 in Digestive Diseases and Sciences, saw 90 patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) split into two groups. The first group consumed an enteric-coated peppermint capsule three times a day for eight weeks. The second group consumed a placebo in the same quantity for the same period.
The results determined that many of the participants, after the eight-week-period, showed less abdominal pain. Better still, at least 14 participants found themselves entirely free of any abdominal pain associated with IBS.
Reduced Risk of Type II Diabetes
In the United States alone, 29.1 million people suffer from diabetes. Globally, 85-90% of all those who have diabetes have type-2 Diabetes.
For most people, a hormone called insulin regulates blood glucose levels in the body. However, this may differ in those who have type-2 diabetes. For them, the pancreas, which is the large gland in the body that produces insulin, does not function at full capacity. This means that insulin levels are too low. And this, in turn, means glucose levels are too high.
Ultimately, glucose levels build up in the blood instead of being converted into energy. This can potentially cause significant damage to multiple areas of the body.
Lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, insufficient physical activity and poor diet all contribute to increased type-2 diabetes risks. Once one has considered these factors, Gunpowder Green Tea can aid in reducing the risks of developing this chronic condition.
One 2006 Japanese study demonstrated that participants who consumed up to 6 cups of any Green Tea variety a day had a 33% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
New statistics suggest that 75% of populations in the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea and the US experience stress every day. Stress can affect not only our mental wellbeing, but also our physical health. When left unaddressed, stress can negatively impact one’s immunity, as well as sleeping patterns, sex drive and digestive system health.
All Gunpowder Tea varieties, including Black, Green and Oolong, can provide a much-needed boost. In these Teas, an amino acid called L-theanine can promote alpha brain waves. In turn, these brain waves relax the body and the mind without causing drowsiness.
A 2009 study conducted at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine showed that the frequent consumption of Green Tea, in particular, reduced psychological stress by up to 20%. This is in addition to the fact that, put simply, there is nothing better than sitting on a sofa with a nice, hot cup of Gunpowder Tea after a stressful day!
Types of Gunpowder Tea
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company stock six types of Gunpowder Tea, as well as, of course, Moroccan Mint Tea! Each one is as delicious as the last, though they all have their own unique qualities. Which one suits you best?
Gunpowder Green Tea
This is our “house” Gunpowder Green Tea, boasting unmistakably traditional flavours and aromas. Best-suited to those who like to keep things simple.
It originates from the Zhejiang province, the home of Gunpowder Tea, and makes for an excellent introduction into the world of these remarkable brews.
Should you wish to make your own Moroccan Mint Tea with your own peppermint leaves, then this Tea likewise makes a great base ingredient to get you started. Whether you wish to enjoy it as a standalone Tea or with tasty additions, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better brew!
Gunpowder Temple of Heaven Tea
Once one has familiarised themselves with our House Tea, we recommend our Gunpowder Temple of Heaven Tea.
This is an infusion with a softer aroma than standard grades of Gunpowder Tea. It offers delicacy on the palate without sacrificing flavour.
Additionally, this beverage has had 85% of its Gunpowder Tea caffeine removed. For this reason, one may enjoy it throughout the day, no matter the time!
Gunpowder Organic Green Tea
Want to do your bit for the environment? Choose Gunpowder Organic Green Tea. Why? Because small changes make a big difference.
To make this Tea, as well as all other Organic Teas, producers must use only controlled bio-cultivation methods.
It is entirely free from synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. This ultimately sustains the health of the soil and ecosystems while combining tradition and scientific innovation to benefit the environment.
What more could you possibly want from your morning cuppa’?
Gunpowder Formosa Green Tea
Travelling across the Taiwan Strait, we have our Gunpowder Formosa Green Tea. This Tea grows at altitudes between 1,500 and 2,500 feet.
Nothing beats it in terms of flavour and aroma, with defined yet mellow smoky notes and grassy undertones being its crowning glory.
While some may choose to add lemon or honey, we recommend it served without such accompaniments so one can appreciate its excellent profile.
Gunpowder Pinhead Green Tea
One shouldn’t confuse this brew with the American punk rock band, Pinhead Gunpowder!
Indeed, we prefer the Tea! For this beverage, we’re returning to mainland China. It is a traditional Gunpowder through and through, originating from the Zhejiang province.
Expect bold yet easily-recognisable Gunpowder flavours in every sip. So, don’t be a pinhead! Give this wonderful beverage a go!
Black Gunpowder Tea
Finally, we have our Black Gunpowder Tea. This is arguably the ‘most’ unique of them all, for obvious reasons! It is also a notably rare and unusual Tea originating from the Fujian province of China, one sometimes given the nickname, “Black Pearls”.
Unlike many modern Gunpowders, this Black Tea has the honour of being handcrafted to perfection. The word “perfect” also applies to its divine full-bodied taste, with a magnificent fusion of smokey and flowery notes providing balance.