Notice the tightly rolled "gunpowder" leaves. While this tea steeps, watch "the agony of the leaf" as the leaves open. Full-bodied flavor.
Gunpowder, the substance used to fire bullets out of a gun-barrel is one of the four great inventions of ancient China. (The other three are the compass, paper, and an Asian version of the printing press). Gunpowder tea, the substance used to keep your eyes open and your taste-buds hopping is one of the great inventions of Zhejinag province in Eastern China.
Gunpowder teas are primarily produced in the town of Pingshui in the mountainous Guiji region of the province. The technique for their production has remained virtually unchanged since the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907) - and what a production it is. After plucking, each individual leaf is rubbed and twisted by hand then dried by stir-frying in a large pan. Depending on the quality of the leaf, ambient humidity and temperature, up to 4 rounds of stir-fry drying may be required. Although in recent years this process has been sped up somewhat through the limited use of mechanical equipment, the necessity of hand-rolling the tea into its signature shape is still incredibly labor intensive. In fact, it is so labor intensive that tea workers have developed many euphemisms to describe the intensity of the process. For example: “It takes 1 kilogram of sweat trickling down the heels to produce 1 kilogram of tea.” Or: “The tea of one season will make one thin and meager because of the work required.” Luckily for the workers, they are all well fed and properly looked after on the job! (We know this because we visit the factories frequently to ensure working conditions meet acceptable international standards.)
The end result of all this work is a fabulous cup that has long been prized by Chinese and Westerners alike. In fact, Zhejiang Gunpowders were at one time the second most expensive teas on the London markets and continue to be popular the world over to this day. The tea is prized for its robust fresh character that is underscored by subtle touches of oak. (Incidentally, Gunpowder tea is the base of many Moroccan mint teas because of its rich character.) When selecting Gunpowders, traders look for tea that has been tightly rolled and has a slightly waxy appearance indicative of freshness. The grade we are offering here is a superb example of these qualities. Open the bag and you will find a tightly rolled, uniformly sized tea with an aroma that will have you reaching for a teapot immediately. Enjoy Gunpowder today and experience one of Zhejiang’s finest offerings.
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