Gunpowder tea is loose leaf tea that is tightly rolled into tiny pellets that resemble gunpowder. This type of tea is usually produced using green tea leaves, but not always. The benefits of gunpowder tea depend on the type of tea leaf that is used to produce it.
What Is Gunpowder Green Tea?
Many teas have names based on the plant that is grown to produce it. Others are named after the region where the tea originated. But gunpowder tea is named after the way it looks and tastes.
Gunpowder tea has a unique production method. To make the highest quality gunpowder tea, artisans wither, steam, roll, and dry individual tea leaves. Machine rolled gunpowder tea is also available (and quite common) although not as highly revered. This tea is sometimes called pearl tea or bead tea based on the shape of each tiny tea pellet. Some people also call it Chinese gunpowder tea.
When you steep a cup of gunpowder tea, each individual leaf unrolls or "explodes" as some would describe. The tea has a taste that many describe as lightly smoky—as the name indicates.
Some people blend gunpowder tea with other types of tea to create unique flavors. For example, gunpowder tea combined with spearmint tea creates a well-known blend called Moroccan Mint tea.
How to Make Gunpowder Tea
You can buy gunpowder tea online or in your local tea shop. Look for small, tight, shiny pellets. Because of the unique manufacturing method, gunpowder tea usually stays fresh longer than other traditional types of tea.
Tea lovers used different methods to brew their gunpowder tea. Some brew it in a cup, others in a teapot and still others in a glass jar. But the simplest way is to brew it in your teacup with hot water from a temperature-controlled teapot (which allows for careful temperature maintenance).
How to Brew Gunpowder Tea
Place one teaspoon of tea leaves in the bottom of a preheated teacup
Heat water to about 160º Fahrenheit
Pour four to five ounces of water over the tea leaves
Let tea leaves steep for 2-3 minutes
Strain loose leaves from the cup before drinking
Many tea experts say that you can use the tea leaves again for a second cup if desired.
Does Gunpowder Tea Contain Caffeine?
Gunpowder tea is usually made with green tea leaves which originate from the Camellia sinensis plant. Usually, green tea contains 35-70 milligrams of caffeine per serving, but gunpowder tea often provides slightly more. The amount of caffeine in your cup will depend slightly on the brewing method used and on the quality of the leaves you buy.
If your gunpowder tea comes from oolong tea leaves, you'll get about 50-75 milligrams of caffeine (or more) per cup and if your gunpowder tea comes from black tea leaves you'll get about 60-90 milligrams of caffeine (or more) per cut.
As a basis for comparison, a cup of black coffee contains about 100-150 milligrams of caffeine.
Gunpowder Tea Health Benefits
If your gunpowder tea is made from green tea, you may enjoy certain health benefits when you drink it. But many of the benefits that you see advertised online and in the media haven't been consistently supported by clinical studies. However, research is ongoing and scientist are learning more about the benefits of green tea every day.
According to the National Institutes of Health Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, green tea may provide a boost of mental alertness, most likely due to the caffeine content of the beverage. There is also some evidence that it may boost cardiovascular health, reduce blood pressure, and improve cholesterol. However, studies have provided inconsistent results so it is hard to say for sure if you will experience these benefits if you consume the tea regularly.
Many people believe that green tea helps them to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. However, studies have not been able to prove that green tea is an effective weight loss aid.
Gunpowder Tea Side Effects
Gunpowder tea made from green tea is likely to be safe when consumed in moderation as a beverage. However, people who are sensitive to caffeine may experience headaches, jitters, or sleeplessness when they drink it.
The Therapeutic Research Center notes that green tea has been consumed daily in Asian cultures and has not been associated with significant adverse effects. They note, however, that drinking very high doses of green tea is likely unsafe