Gunpowder Green

Tea type
Green Tea
Ingredients
Not available
Flavors
Hay, Roasted, Smoke, Wood, Autumn Leaf Pile, Earth, Grass, Flowers, Mineral
Sold in
Not available
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Christian Niles
Average preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 oz / 242 ml

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15 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Gunpowder tea is one of my favorite Chinese green teas - I wanted to try a sample of this even though I have a big bag of Red Blossom's gunpowder at home. I am curious as to how big of a difference...” Read full tasting note
    88
    amyoh2 2469 tasting notes
  • “New apartment. First pot of tea with my roommate's electric kettle. I probably shouldn't have made green tea with it, only because i cannot control the temperature of the water. I think i 'burnt'...” Read full tasting note
    89
    Doodleology 108 tasting notes
  • “Gunpowder releases a definite aroma of burnt wood, definitely charred though lacking the piney smokiness of Lapsang Souchong. The medium bodied, light brown liquor carries through the notes of...” Read full tasting note
    70
    harneytea 157 tasting notes
  • “As someone without much experience with the gunpowder variety of green, I decided to play some Russian roulette and brew up a batch. After spinning the cylinder and smelling the brew, one word...” Read full tasting note
    58
    bravedave 30 tasting notes

From Harney & Sons

A basic green tea from China’s Zhejiang Province, Gunpowder is a good everyday green tea. The tea takes its name from the rolled leaf balls that are leaden in color. Like spent gunpowder, it has a slight smoky flavor.

About Harney & Sons View company

Since 1983 Harney & Sons has been the source for fine teas. We travel the globe to find the best teas and accept only the exceptional. We put our years of experience to work to bring you the best Single-Estate teas, and blends beyond compare.

15 Tasting Notes

88
2469 tasting notes

Gunpowder tea is one of my favorite Chinese green teas – I wanted to try a sample of this even though I have a big bag of Red Blossom’s gunpowder at home. I am curious as to how big of a difference there is between gunpowder teas.

I might have steeped this too long – accidentally… the tea is mellow, assertive, earthy & pungent. It is vegetal in a savory way (think roasted brussels sprouts). There’s a bit of bitterness present but I think it could use a little less steeping time so chalk that up to a user error…

I think it’s interesting that in Harney’s description that almost all gunpowder is made for export. When I was in a Chinese tea shop recently they told me that “Gunpowder is not a Chinese green tea”, which I thought was kind of odd. I mean, clearly it is from there but perhaps he meant the Chinese just do not drink much of it?

Second steep I did for only about 60-90 seconds and I definitely like it better this way. The aroma is mildy smoky and the tea is still assertive and vegetal but it also has a bit of sweetness in the finish instead of bitterness so I think I got it right!

I might get this again if I needed more gunpowder tea but I really liked the lemony gunpowder from Harney! I also recommend reading the entry H&S did on this tea if you want to learn some more nifty facts about how gunpowder tea is made. :)

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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89
108 tasting notes

New apartment. First pot of tea with my roommate’s electric kettle. I probably shouldn’t have made green tea with it, only because i cannot control the temperature of the water. I think i ‘burnt’ this tea. But thankfully due to the smokiness of it, it didn’t taste completely off…

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

I want a temp control kettle so badly…

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70
157 tasting notes

Gunpowder releases a definite aroma of burnt wood, definitely charred though lacking the piney smokiness of Lapsang Souchong. The medium bodied, light brown liquor carries through the notes of charred, grilled leeks.

For centuries, Gunpowder has served as the base for Arabian mint tea, sweetened with plenty of sugar. Its strong charred flavors taste wonderful with mint and citrus, but the tea is also delicious on its own.

Gunpowder is not a Qing Ming (spring tea); since it gets all its flavors from its processing methods, the tea does not require leaves with much inherent strength. It is made from tougher and less tender later-season leaves, foliage that has grown almost twice as long as leaves plucked in the earlier spring. The leaves are fixed and then fired for an extended period in a hot even until they become shiny and slightly burnt. The oven is designed like a Laundromat dryer, tumbling the leaves over and over in a hot metal cylinder.

Gunpowder is produced almost entirely for export. For many years one of the only green teas available in the United States, it has been produced for more than two hundred years near coastal trading ports like Ningbo and in its ancestral home of Zhejiang province The tea most likely gets its name from the shape of its leaves, so tightly rolled that they resemble the pellets soldiers once used as musket shot. With its balled form and heavy firing, Gunpowder is among the most stable teas for transport, ideal for export in the age before vacuum packaging and airplanes.

Today the tea is made in most provinces of China. Indeed, after the Qing Ming harvest, many tea farmers turn the rest of the year’s new leaves into Gunpowder. As a result there are many styles and many quality levels. The worst Gunpowder is bright yellow and acrid with smoky flavors; the best has charred but assuredly green, vegetal flavors.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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58
30 tasting notes

As someone without much experience with the gunpowder variety of green, I decided to play some Russian roulette and brew up a batch. After spinning the cylinder and smelling the brew, one word comes to mind: smoky! The scent reminds me of a freshly extinguished campfire. This is not a warm and cozy aroma! On the outset, this bold scent has me concerned. I don’t want my tea tasting like an ashtray.

Upon sipping, I’m pleasantly surprised. This green has a fairly-strong, earthy taste. Subtlety-hidden is a honey-like hint. But that is quickly forgotten when a more smoky flavor comes barreling in. After a few cups, the blood is definitely rushing to the head. Be prepared, this is a tea that unquestionably has a strong caffeine content.

Harney and Sons describe this as a “a good everyday green tea”. I disagree. As an everyday green tea, I want something sweeter, softer, and less offending. Only some sort of adrenaline junkie would want this daily. Occasionally, for a smoky-mature jolt, this tea may work. I stumble out of this game of Russian roulette shaken, but alive to see another day.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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81
52 tasting notes

This was a good green tea. It was a little more “grassy” smelling and more vegetal than the Dragon Well green tea I was drinking yesterday. It also had little of the nutty taste that was present in the Dragon Well.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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226 tasting notes

I drank this almost right after drinking the sencha. That was amistake. It did not go down well at first. But then I ate breakfast and tried another round. Much better tasting! From the name I was expecting smoke, but I got an earthy vegetable flavour, and no smoke. Maybe I should stop expecting gunpowder to have a smoky flavour.

It’s a good tea if you don’t drink it right after a sweet buttery tea. I’ll re-visit this one when it’s the first tea of the day, and provide a better review. Thanks for the sample, Cameron B!

Kirkoneill1988

I love this tea too. I usually get the stuff by twinings

Erik Dabel

Mmmmm gunpowder green is one of my favorites. Red Blossom also makes a great one. The name gunpowder comes from its shape, it’s rolled into small pellets resembling black powder. No smoke, just big taste!

scribbles

Aaahhh. Makes sense now :)

Kirkoneill1988

it tastes smokey to me :P and i like it

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83
48 tasting notes

Sadly its a sipdown, no more gunpowder in my little cupboard. I always have liked gunpowder but I don’t buy it much. This is a mild various with just a hint of smoke and wood, more vegetal, and sweet tastes. If you brew it longer you get more smoke but also more astringency! I’ll buy this again some day but hopefully I’ll find other gunpowders to sample first. I love watching the little balls explode so I tend to overbrew!

Flavors: Hay, Roasted, Smoke, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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114 tasting notes

Aroma: Roasty, wood
Liquor Color: Deep yellow
Liquor Flavor: Slight bitterness, smokey, woody, roasted
Notes: I got this to make Moroccan mint tea, and I can see how this works well with mint and sugar. It’s not something I would drink alone, this reminds me of yerba mate with the smokiness.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80
608 tasting notes

First Chinese green tea! I’m mostly focusing on trying Japanese greens right now, but I figured I’d grab a sample of this and a dragonwell from H&S just the same. The dry leaf is quite distinctive. The leaves are formed into very dark olive green pellets. These pellets are very unevenly rolled – sort of like a smaller version of green oolong. They smell chiefly of alfalfa – similar to hay but with a greener and grassier tinge. H&S suggested 3 minutes in general for Chinese green teas, so I figured I’d give that a shot.

The brewed tea’s aroma is quite vegetal, but also dry-smelling. It reminds me of dried autumn leaves. This dry leafy scent carries over into the taste as well. I can also taste the alfalfa that I detected in the dry leaf. There’s definitely a very subtle and pleasant smokiness alongside a nice grounding earthy note. This tea leaves a strange dusty feeling in my mouth, similar to the houjicha I recently tried. I’m unsure if this suggests that I should be rinsing these teas beforehand or if it’s just an element of the taste.

I haven’t tried gunpowder before on my own, but I suspect this is the green tea that I’ve had in Chinese buffets before. It tastes very similar if my memory is correct. I could see this making a good everyday tea.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Earth, Grass, Smoke

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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