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Gunpowder Teas

Taiwan has the perfect conditions for producing Gunpowder teas. They've been doing it for 300 years or more when the tea plants came from China. Terroir is the term given for those conditions, some of which are climactic and topographical. I would love to go someday to see the mountain meadows and experience the climate where it's possible for tea bushes to produce (flush) 5 times a year from April to December.

After traveling to India to see the production there in Assam and Darjeeling, a trip to Taiwan, a small island off the east coast of China would be fantastic! I could witness the production of their famous gunpowders which apparently is quite complicated!

Green Explosion

Gunpowder is tea plucked, pan-fired (so it does not ferment) and rolled. The leaf is then broken into small pieces and sent to the dryer. Then it is rolled again in a round drum that turns the tea over and over. Then it's off to the dryer again to give it a glossy look. At the end of it all, we have a leaf that has only about 5% moisture and is tightly wound into a ball shape.

If brewed properly in less than boiling water, you will get the tastes of sweet grass and honey. Now, that's a combination!

Why called gunpowder? Here's what Wikipedia says: The origin of the English term may come from the tea's similarity in appearance to actual gunpowder. The name may also have arisen from the fact that the grey-green leaf is tightly rolled into a tiny pellet and "explodes" into a long leaf upon being steeped in hot water. Another explanation is that the tea can also have a smoky flavour. It also is possible that the English term may stem from the Mandarin Chinese phrase,  gang pao de for 'freshly brewed' which sounds like the English word 'gunpowder,' The latter makes the most sense to me!

Our tea team wanted to rename our Taiwan Gunpowder to give it a more curious imagery and so we called it Green Explosion. The name is unique to Lady Baker's online Tea Shop. But the tea is famous around the world for its smooth and satisfying cup.

Gunpowder tea

Another vendor at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market is my delightful friend, Aing. She is from Taiwan. I will ask her to pronounce 'gunpowder' in Mandarin and make a decision for myself as to the origin of this green tea christened 'Gunpowder'.

Here's to a cup of Green Explosion on a hot summer's day!

The winner of last week's Jeopartea giveaway is Aimee Yurris! Congratulations Aimee! Please stop by the Charlottetown Farmers' Market on Wednesday or Saturday to pick up your Tea Musketeers, or send us an email at sales(at)ladybakersteatrolley(dot)com.

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