Having had a better experience than many of my cohorts with this tea, I’ll offer some ideas which might have made the difference. 195F or 200F is too hot for this tea. And it’s so easy to use too much of this tea … consider how dense the dry tea is … probably twice as dense as a non-rolled green leaf. I didn’t weigh it, but I’d guess that a half or 3/4 of a teaspoon of tea would be plenty (2 grams) per each 6oz water. I made a 12oz mug using less than a teaspoon of tea.
Another tip is to pour the water down the side of the steeping vessel, rather directly on the tea … or at least try to pour gently. Pinhead gunpowder is usually made from smaller and more tender leaves than regular gunpowder, and thus is somewhat delicate, like a Japanese green. Also, do not put a lid on while steeping, especially not the first steep … try that with your fussy green teas. It may help.
Green is my least favorite tea type, so I won’t be buying. But when writing these notes, I try to stay objective and be a judge of the tea’s quality, compared to others of it’s type. I’ve had one pinhead gunpowder before this one, and a couple of the regular. The pinheads have been more subtle in both cases than the regular (4-5 mm size).
So, on to this evaluation. Tiny (about 2-3mm) nuggets of shiny, dark green tea — truly a pinhead gunpowder tea. The liquor from them was a clear, radiant gold, and the oft-noted wisp of smokiness was there, too, in the scent and flavor. Thus, gunpowder tends earthier, to me, than a more floral green, like a mao feng. It presented practically nothing in the way of astringency or bitterness to distract me from it’s herbaceous greenness. A bit of artichoke, I think, not particularly sweet or grassy, but nicely juicy. Steeping in a glass mug with glass infuser may have helped preserve it’s pure nature. The second steep at 3 min had more body and wetness than the first, with equal strength. As I finished it, up popped the sun, and voila, it was Thursday!
EDIT: Okay, I went and weighed the tea. A rounded teaspoon is 3.5gm, which is about 50% more tea than needed for 6oz. So it’s not twice as dense … only one and a half times. If a person were to use 2 tsp for a 12oz mug, they would have used enough tea for a 21oz pot.