Gunpowder Green Tea (Zhu Cha)

Tea type
Green Tea
Green Tea Leaves
Broccoli, Char, Earth, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Mineral, Roasted, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Vegetal, Wood, Pepper
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Edit tea info Last updated by breeteas
Average preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 45 sec 7 g 9 oz / 258 ml

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28 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I broke into this one a couple of days ago to drink with my fiance. I brewed it for a minute and then poured out a glass for each of us. I was expecting this to be overwhelmingly smokey, but this...” Read full tasting note
  • “This tea was a sample from Teavivre that I have taken forever to get around to. :( I did make this tea once with a scoop of spearmint, but I didn’t feel it would be fair to rate this without...” Read full tasting note
  • “This is a sample graciously sent to me from Teavivre – I am very inexperienced with green teas so I figured I would go for this one to broaden my horizons. It tends to be universally well reviewed,...” Read full tasting note
  • “Hm. Finishing up the sample they sent me. Eyeballed the infuser basket in my mini teapot. Very sweet. Doesn’t taste as much like smoke as Adagio’s gunpowder does, but that’s okay with me. I love...” Read full tasting note

From Teavivre

Origin: Fuding, Fujian, China

Ingredients: Leaves been rolled into a small round pellets

Taste: Smoky flavor and sweet aftertaste

Brew: 1-2 teaspoons for 8oz of water. Brew at 203 ºF (95 ºC) for 1 to 2 minutes (100 ºC) for 1 to 3 minutes (exact time depends on your taste – a longer time will give the tea a stronger taste and color)

Health Benefits: Like all green teas, the benefits of gunpowder tea are many and varied. A cup of Gunpowder green tea contains up to 200 mg of catechins, that are known to give green its anti oxidant benefits. Several studies have shown that the catechins in teas can act as so-called “hypolipidemics” – that is they lower the amount of “bad” cholesterol in the body (called LDL), while increasing the amount of “good” cholesterol (called HDL).

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28 Tasting Notes

557 tasting notes

I broke into this one a couple of days ago to drink with my fiance. I brewed it for a minute and then poured out a glass for each of us.

I was expecting this to be overwhelmingly smokey, but this surprised me. There is a little hint of smoke and a slight sharp astringent quality. But there is this nice light sweet taste to it that was just calling to me. The taste is nice and grassy. Almost a little spinachy. It just tastes green.

I brewed another steep today for about a minute and a half and added sugar. Oh my! This is going to replace my hot chocolate cravings for a while with that extra sugar. It brings out the natural sweetness of the tea and the smoke takes on an extra quality to it. It reminds me of fresh vegetables. I bet this would be wonderful brewed up, sweetened, and then iced. Yum.

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525 tasting notes

This tea was a sample from Teavivre that I have taken forever to get around to. :( I did make this tea once with a scoop of spearmint, but I didn’t feel it would be fair to rate this without trying it first on it’s own. Firstly, it did mix very well with the mint. Sweet and refreshing with a vegetal and malty background.

The tea on it’s own tastes very good as well. I love the shiny little pellets of dry leaf. It reminds me a bit of how green oolong looks, only oolongs aren’t usually so shiny. The brewed liquor is a bit darker than other green teas I’m used to. Darker than some oolongs even. The taste is sweet and slightly toasty. To be honest, it’s not a very memorable flavor. The quality is, as always, top notch. This is exactly what a gunpowder tea should be, but not the tea itself is not extraordinary or unique. I do love that it is smooth and without a hint of astringency. I think I will probably continue to add mint to this tea.

On an unrelated note, holiday cookies are making me fat. It doesn’t help that it’s so cold I don’t feel like going out to run lately. argh.

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709 tasting notes

This is a sample graciously sent to me from Teavivre – I am very inexperienced with green teas so I figured I would go for this one to broaden my horizons. It tends to be universally well reviewed, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong, right? The dry smell is quite appealing, actually. i get a great deal of sweetness and almost honey notes. the beau proclaims it is earthy and vegetal, but I don’t get either of those smells. Honestly, I hide from vegetal and earthy – I’m glad this seems to have neither.

Out of fear, I steeped this approximately 1 minute 45 seconds in 80 degree water – we are each having a smallish cup of this so I used one heaping “perfect” teaspoon of leaves for the pot. The liquor is a warm yellow, darker than I would have guessed for the temp/time combo but as I said, I rarely brew greens. The beau likes them though, so he is the “authority” in our house.

First impressions are quite nice. The flavour closely matches the aroma and is quite nice. I get sweetness, and I am reminded of oolongs. I am not getting anything in terms of vegetal but I’m really liking it. This is the sort of green tea that I can appreciate – I think it is a little under-steeped in terms of temp, time or leaf but it’s still a good infusion. Will give a second shot tomorrow morning. Thanks again, Teavivre!

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323 tasting notes

Hm. Finishing up the sample they sent me. Eyeballed the infuser basket in my mini teapot.

Very sweet. Doesn’t taste as much like smoke as Adagio’s gunpowder does, but that’s okay with me. I love sweet greens. There’s a bit of the smoky aftertaste, and I love how it sort of follows the flavor instead of dominating it. Sad to see this one go.

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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185 tasting notes

As always, a big thanks to Angel and the Teavivre team for this fantastic samples.

It’s been somewhat well documented that Moroccan Mint is one of my favorite teas in ze world. So, as many gunpowders as I’ve drank, this is really the first gunpowder I’ve drank alone (yeah, with nobody else).

The little pellets in this sample are remarkably shiny, I don’t know how to explain it other than that. They look like precious little rocks.

Anyway, so how does it taste? Brilliant, that’s how it tastes. It’s wonderful. There is a sweetness to this tea that is wonderful, and a slight vegetable flavor. Not that in your face, I’m eating a serving of boiled cabbage flavor, but a soft, sweet, this tastes like the forest vegetable flavor. There’s a bit of a tinge of that malted flavor that I associate with black tea as well, that really rounds this out quite pleasantly.

So, in preparation for my big meeting thing tomorrow, let’s break it down to three bullet points (that would fit on a powerpoint slide!):

1. Lightly sweet
2. Tastes like the forest
3. Reminds me of black tea

I definitely think this is going to be a tea I keep around for a while. Actually, I think I’m going to go put in an order with Teavivre right now. I’m missing their Bailin Gongfu, as well.

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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69 tasting notes


- 8 Oz glass teapot
- 7 gram dry leaf (2,5 tsp.)
- 95 Celsius water
- Infusion time: 1 min – 1,5 min – 2 min

Leaf & Infusion:

Dry leaf – small, tightly rolled pebbles with dark olive tone and roasted glaze glint. Aside from sturdy roasted notes there’s some fruity twist to it, best associated with plums and peaches.

Wet leaf – leaf gradually opens and fills out 2/3 of the teapot after the third infusion. As leaf starts to open it holds many fine notes that are equally present in the cup and leaves room for succeding steeps. After the third infusion leaf is entirelly open with signs of wearing off as the tone shifts to more bright green.

Infusion (1st) – First steep gives amber and thick liqour with initial dry and astringent aroma. First sip reveals thick and pleasantly astringent mouthfeel that balances with citrus sourness. Right after swallowing roasted and lightly smoked notes make a lingering comeback and gentle tickling on the tongue. After few sips a more fruity profile develops as one can sense notes of dried fruits. When compared to an average gunpowder this one gives a very clear first infusion and it’s well balanced.

Infusion (2nd) – Even though the liquor tone doesn’t change in second infusion, it gets a bit murky which is common with gunpowder, sometimes right of the bat with first infusion. As mouthfeel is equally thick like in previous steep in this one has a diminished roasted aftertaste and astringency as citrus-sour notes gain the advantage as fruitiness is still ever present.

Infusion (3rd) – Equally murky as previous with just a hint of sourness and astringency. Suprisingly, this cup is more sween and leaves a nice nutty film on the tongue leaving out the fruity part.

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212 tasting notes

This is my favorite green tea so far. I like it because it is so different. It has a light roasted note that leads to sweet mellow vegetal flavor. Not like asparagus or steamed veggies, like the way small trees smell if cut into the bark. Maybe it’s just a green flavor that is a tiny bit malty. I’ve had some smokey tea today so I don’t know if I am getting the aftertaste from my previous tea or there is a little bit of smoke in this one as well. It’s a really awesome green tea. I was pretty sure green teas weren’t going to be my thing but this is totally changing my mind.

Thanks Teavivre and Angel for the most excellent sample!

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec

I love gunpowder greens! :)

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639 tasting notes

I’m looking forward to trying the huge stock of green teas I have from Teavivre. They’ve sent me tons of samples, and I haven’t gotten around to trying all of them yet. But I’m on a green tea kick, so bring it on!

This is my second experience with gunpowder green tea. Although the first time I tried some, it was a mint, bagged concoction. So, that’s probably not the most representative of this type of tea. I’m confident that Teavivre will give me the best possible experience with gunpowder.

The dry leaves smell exactly like the alfalfa hay I used to feed my pet bunny, Jasper. He was the cutest white bunny in the whole world with a few light grey spots on his back, grey ears, and grey spots around his eyes that made it look like he was wearing eyeliner. Sooo cute!! I had to get rid of him when I moved across the country from LA to D.C. But he was a birthday present for an adorable little girl, so at least I know he went somewhere he’ll be loved and cared for.

But I digress. Ah, I never get over how certain smells bring a rush of memories. Anyway, the liquor is a pale yellowish green. The brewed tea aroma is less hay now and more…hmmm, interesting. It has a little kick of something that’s tugging at my memory, but I just can’t quite place it. Maybe it’s just a green tea smell. Man, how long has it been since I drank a high quality green tea?

Okay okay, on to the taste. Wait! Puer!!! That’s what the aroma reminds me of!!! Wow…really? Puer? Yep! I admit it’s strange. But my nose isn’t lying to me. Finally, the first sip…okay it tastes nothing like puer. Thank God! :)

The taste is back to the dry leaf aroma: fresh, green, alfalfa hay. It does have some kick to it, similar to the puer aroma. It almost reminds me of red hots. Not because it’s spicy. But because of that initial burning when the red hot first hits your tongue. But this sensation is a fleeting one and quickly dissipates.

I wish I could describe the aftertaste. It’s not like anything else. It’s also somewhat palate cleansing. This is a very interesting and unique green tea experience. It’s not like your standard green tea. Really, the thing it reminds me most of is puer. Except it’s muuuuuch more stomachable than puer.

The second steep for two minutes at just below boiling yielded a much darker brew, almost murky (excuse the lack of a better descriptive word). The leaves fully unfurled during this second steep. The taste is basically the same as the first cup, maybe a bit more flavorful.

I wonder if anyone has ever made a flavored gunpowder green tea. I think it could be really good if you found the right ingredients to add to it. It would make a very unique base. Despite its distinctive flavor, it’s not quite to my liking. But I highly recommend that people try this one of a kind tea!

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec

I used to have a pet bunny as well. His name was Jedi Ninja and my best friend and I loved him. He was great! Sadly we also moved and he had to be rehomed….


Gunpowder is supposed to be smoky I think. Did you get any smoke in this one?

ps – pu-erh rules!!!!! :-P


@Ninavampi, awwww Jedi Ninja! What a cute name! I feel your pain with having to find him a new home. It’s never easy.

@Amy oh, perhaps there is a slight smoke to this one. That could be the element I don’t particularly like. I really don’t care for smoky teas, but I can drink this one just fine. It’s not a very drastic smoke.

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149 tasting notes

I requested a sample of this with a recent order I placed with TeaVivre. I’ve been meaning to branch out and try some more greens (my stash primarily consists of black, oolong, and pu’er teas at the moment), and this seemed to be one of the basic green teas I haven’t tried until now.

One of the first things I’d heard about gunpowder was that it had a slightly smoky aroma, which gave rise to its name. I was a little sceptical of that (the etymology, not the taste), since lapsang souchong is probably known as the smoky tea, so it would make more sense to me if that was called gunpowder if the name was just based on flavour. So, I did a quick Wikipedia search, which yielded some unsatisfactory (read: uncited) results. Basically, other origins for the name could be from the appearance and how its unfurling sort of ‘explodes’ when brewed, or it could be from the Mandarin phrase for “freshly brewed”. The most reasonable etymology to me seems to be the one regarding its appearance, but I’ll have to continue looking into that.

Anyway, I wound up drinking the entire cup while looking up the etymology of gunpowder tea and so I don’t have any specific notes on it. Oops. I do remember thinking that it did have the slightest hint of smokiness in the background, along with a bit of astringency and a light vegetal sweetness.

I’m on my second steep now, and the smokiness is gone, as is the astringency. Very smooth cup. The sweetness seems to be more prominent. Might not be an everyday cup for me, but I’d definitely get some more sample sizes from different companies to see the variation in this type of tea, since it does seem like a nice tea. Thanks for the sample, TeaVivre!

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

On a totally random note, I think this is the first tasting note in which I’ve used some sort of text formatting. Took me a while to figure out that Steepster uses Textile as a markup language.

test test?
test test?
→ test

Ag More testing Numbered lists? Bulleted lists? More bulleted lists?

Oooh, thanks! I’ll have to keep that bookmarked.

Butiki Teas

You’re welcome! :)


In Chinese, gunpowder tea is called zhū chá (珠茶). The tea is so named because its rolled, pellet-like appearance is similar to gunpowder. So it’s called gunpowder.

Howeveras the lapsang souchong tea, after de-enzyming, the fresh tea leaves of this tea will be smoked with pine wood, so it has a heavy flavor of smoked.


Cool, thanks for the clarification! :)


It’s my pleasure:)

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109 tasting notes

Last Teavivre tea before I go back and re-try the Pureh! Thanks Angel, and I am sorry it took me so long!!

Smell: Dry, it had a grassy/veggie/earthy smell, if that all makes sense. Steeping it was a bit more smoky/vegetal, all good, of course.

Taste: It was very earthy and smoky, and then a nice, sweet aftertaste popped in, though it wasn’t too sweet, which is good. I also decided to add a small bit of honey, and it went very well with this tea. It has been a long time since I’ve had green tea, though, to be honest, so I don’t have anything else to add right now as I have to build my green tea vocabulary and tasting notes back up to remember what is good/bad about it. But do know that I highly enjoyed this tea!!

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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