Gunpowder Tea: Everything You Need to Know (And How to Make it Properly)

gunpowder tea leaves

Quick Look:

  • ORIGIN: China
  • TASTING NOTES: smooth, bold, vegetal, smoky, nutty
  • STEEP TIME: 1 to 3 minutes
  • CAFFEINE METER: Moderate

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What is Gunpowder Tea?

Dating back to the Tang Dynasty, Gunpowder tea is one of the oldest, most well-known green teas in the world. 

Made by individually hand-rolling steamed tea leaves into small round balls, Gunpowder tea, originally referred to as “pearl tea”, earned its current English namesake by its resemblance to corned gunpowder pellets used for early guns. 

Gunpowder tea’s distinct robust and smoky flavor has made it a favorite amongst both novice and expert tea drinkers.

What do you need to make Gunpowder tea?

Tea Scoop

This is the perfect tool to help you get the perfectly measured scoop of tea leaves every single time. You won’t regret adding this to your tea arsenal!

Electric Tea Kettle

An electric tea kettle with a temperature setting is a must-have brew gadget for tea drinkers! You can set the temperature to the degree for the perfect brew every time. This kettle is a favorite of ours. Or you can check out our full post on the best electric tea kettles.

Spring Water or Filtered Water

To get the best flavors from your tea, use high-quality water. Don’t use tap water or distilled water!

Tea Pot with Strainer

A teapot with a built-in strainer makes brewing tea so much easier when you’re using loose tea leaves. If you’re an avid tea drinker, you won’t regret buying this tea tool!

Loose Gunpowder Tea Leaves

Using loose tea leaves really will give you the best tea-drinking experience. By letting loose leaves steep in the boiled water, they have room to unfurl and release all of their natural aromas.

Tea Cup

This one is up to you! Use whatever cup makes you happy! If you need some inspiration, check out some of our favorite drinkware.

How do you make Gunpowder tea properly?

To make the perfect cup of Gunpowder tea, you will want to use 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for each 8-ounce cup. If you don’t have loose-leaf tea, use 1 tea sachet or 1 tea bag.

Tea tip: if you want a stronger flavor, add more tea leaves rather than steeping them for a longer period of time. Most people don’t realize this, but steeping tea too long doesn’t increase the good flavors, it actually can make it more bitter.

Step 1: Pour your water into the tea kettle.

Use cold bottled spring water or cold filtered water. (Tea Tip: Do not use distilled water – this will negatively impact the taste). Pour some extra water to warm up your teapot or steeping vessel.

Step 2: Boil your water.

For an optimal flavor experience, bring the water to about 175°F. This is important, as green tea is delicate and will become quite bitter if it is steeped in water that is too hot.

If you do not have an electric tea kettle with a temperature setting, bring your kettle to a full boil, then remove it from the heat and let the water sit for a moment before steeping the tea.

Step 3: Warm up your teapot.

First, pour a bit of your boiled water into your teapot or steeping vessel and swirl it around for a few seconds to allow it to warm the vessel. Then you can discard this water in the sink. 

Step 4: Put your Gunpowder tea leaves into the teapot and add the rest of your hot water and then cover the pot.

Step 5: Steep your tea leaves for 1 to 3 minutes.

Some people enjoy Gunpowder tea with a short 1 minute steep, while others prefer the stronger flavors of a 3 minute steep. We recommend capping the steep time at 3 minutes to avoid a bitter taste. 

Step 6: Strain your tea leaves.

This is easiest if you have a teapot with a strainer. 

Step 7: Decant your infused tea into your teacup, add sweeteners to taste, and enjoy!

Can you cold brew Gunpowder Tea?

Yes you can definitely cold brew Gunpowder tea for a delicious and refreshing drink!

Keep reading for the steps to Cold Brewing Gunpowder tea at home.

Did you know cold brewing is the best way to make iced tea? To learn all about it, check out our post on everything you need to know about cold brew.

How do you make cold brew Gunpowder tea properly?

To cold brew Gunpowder tea, use 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for every 8-ounce cup of water.

STEP 1: Add your tea leaves to a pitcher with an infuser.

STEP 2: Pour room-temperature filtered water or spring water over the tea and stir gently.

STEP 3: Allow the tea to steep for about 20 minutes at room temperature, before putting it into the refrigerator. This will encourage the tightly rolled tea leaves to begin to open. 

STEP 4: Put your pitcher in the refrigerator to steep for 6 to 8 hours.

STEP 5: Strain the leaves and enjoy!

Tea Tip:

For a fresh spin on Cold Brew Gunpowder tea, you can add some mint and cucumber to the mix for a more complex flavor.

If you would like to sweeten your cold brew tea, we recommend trying simple syrup, as it dissolves into the cold brew beautifully! You can follow our guide to make your own simple syrup at home!

What does Gunpowder tea taste like?

Gunpowder tea is known for its smooth, bold, and smoky taste with nutty and vegetal notes.

How much caffeine is in Gunpowder tea?

The exact amount of caffeine found in a cup of Gunpowder tea can vary depending on how young or old the tea leaves used are, as well as the steep time. A variety made with young leaves will have more caffeine than a variety made with older, more mature leaves. 

Generally, Gunpowder tea has a moderate amount of caffeine with an average of 30-40mg of caffeine per cup.

You may be able to get some indication of the caffeine level of your Gunpowder tea based on the coloring and size of the tea pellets. If your tea is made up of shiny, bright, smaller-sized pellets there is a good chance they are younger leaves with a higher caffeine content; while more mature leaves are typically bigger and darker in appearance. 

What are some health benefits of drinking Gunpowder tea?

Gunpowder tea has many health benefits including antioxidants, heart health, and blood sugar control.

For the full summary, check out our post on the health benefits and possible side effects of Green tea.

Where can you find good quality Gunpowder tea?

There are several good quality Gunpowder tea options you can try. Here are just a few options to get you started:

What is the best way to store Gunpowder tea?

When it comes to storing Gunpowder tea, there are a few important things you will want to avoid. These are air exposure, light exposure, moisture, heat, and strong odors.

In order to keep your tea in its best and freshest condition, you will want to store it in a container that helps avoid the above-mentioned threats. 

The best containers are made of opaque materials with a tight seal. Some good options include non-reactive metals, glazed ceramics, and non-leaching plastics. Beware that while you may see wood tea storage options, they are not best for storing loose-leaf tea, as they can have their own odors that can alter the taste of your tea. 

Once you have your tea in its storage container, keep it in a cool, dark place. 

Here are some good options for storing your tea leaves:

Looking for ways to organize your tea bags? Try these:

You want to ensure your tea stays fresh as long as possible. To make sure you’re not making any common mistakes, be sure to check out our post on the best practices in tea storage!

We hope this guide helped you learn everything you need to know about Gunpowder tea and how to make it at home!

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