Memorable though its name might be, gunpowder tea has nothing to do with explosives. Its handle comes from the Chinese phrase "gang pao de," which means "fresh-brewed.”
Another name for gunpowder tea is pearl tea, and no matter which term you prefer, tea lovers appreciate its smoky, nearly oaken flavor. While some may describe the taste as minty, peppery, or grassy, all agree on its coppery kick and unforgettable flavor profile.
It evolved into the term “gunpowder” because of its hand-rolled, pellet-like appearance, as well as the surprising way it quickly expands when exposed to hot water.
HOW TO MAKE GUNPOWDER TEA
Chinese green teas in general are easier to brew than their Japanese counterparts. Although all such infusions must occur below 212 degrees Fahrenheit (the boiling point of water), Chinese teas are typically less fussy about their exact thermal reading. To arrive at the ideal temperature for gunpowder tea, boil water in a tea kettle and let it cool for two minutes or so until it reaches about 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
GUNPOWDER TEA IN A TEACUP OR TEAPOT?
While Westerners will normally brew gunpowder in a teapot, the Chinese often steep theirs in an 8-ounce glass or lidded cup. Either way, it's best to use a vessel made of porcelain or glass, with a ratio of just under one teaspoonful of pellets per four ounces of water. Be careful not to use too many pellets, as gunpowder is quite a bit stronger than other green teas.
BREWING GUNPOWDER LEAVES IN A TEA FORTE CAFE CUP
Bring your water to a boil in a kettle on the stove. While you're waiting for it to cool, preheat your cafe cup with a swirl of hot water. Next, insert a Tea Forte infuser and fill nearly to the top with hot water from the kettle. Close the lid on the cup and steep for 60 seconds.
BREWING GUNPOWDER LEAVES IN A GLASS
For this older method, warm the heat resistant glass with a swirl of hot water while letting the water in your kettle cool for two minutes. Add just under 2 teaspoonfuls of loose gunpowder pellets to the glass, fill it nearly to the top with water from the kettle, and steep for 60 seconds.
Heat resistant glass.
BREWING GUNPOWDER LEAVES IN A GLASS TEAPOT
This simple method returns a slightly more mellow steep and requires nothing more complicated than a glass teapot and set of cups. For each serving, boil 8 ounces of water in a teakettle. While you wait the two minutes for it to cool, preheat your teapot (we recommend the Kinto Carat Glass Teapot with the lid removed) with a small amount of scalding water and add just under 2 teaspoonfuls of pellets for each 8-ounce serving.
Now, pour the water from the kettle into the teapot and enjoy the show as the gunpowder pellets burst into life and dance around the pot. Just remember to pour the tea after 45-60 seconds regardless of whether the pellets have finished performing.
The Kinto Carat Glass Teapot is a perfect choice for steeping gunpowder tea.
REUSING GUNPOWDER TEA
Gunpowder tea is so strong and long-lasting that most gunpowder pellets are good for up to five infusions. Just add 30 seconds to your steeping time for each successive brew in order to bring out its optimal flavor.
TIPS FOR MODIFICATIONS
If you find your tea to be too weak, you can add additional pellets or increase the brewing time. Conversely, if it seems too strong, add water to taste for now, and use fewer pellets or brew for a shorter period in the future. If your tea is too bitter, your water was too hot, so shorten the time you take to heat it and consider using a thermometer to ensure a perfect 175 degrees Fahrenheit. A little experimentation can go a long way, resulting in the cup of gunpowder tea that suits you best.