Gunpowder green tea - the name itself sounds oh so interesting and brings a whole bunch of questions to the mind. Originated in China, this tea is simply a wonderful take on the classic green tea that works as a reminiscent of gunpowder.
Check out the below guide that takes you through a detailed study of this incredible tea, its origins, health benefits, features as well as the method to brew it at home.
The most significant thing to note about gunpowder tea is from where it derives its name. It's a Chinese tea that's named after its appearance and flavor and is often known as the Chinese gunpowder tea.
Although it's a variety of green tea produced from the Camellia sinensis plant only, it comes with some amazingly unique characteristics that differentiate it from other blends. And the properties are all thanks to the unique method of preparation that tea artisans follow when making gunpowder green tea.
They wither the leaves, further steaming rolling, and drying the individual green tea leaves to bring out that unique shape. The tightly rolled small pellets look exactly like the classic gunpowder pellets. In fact, the tiny pellet-like shape is the reason why it's often termed as bead tea. The shape also allows the tea leaves to retain more of the constituting nutrients and flavors.
Gunpowder green tea was produced for the very first time in the Zhejiang province of China during the Tang Dynasty. Initially, it was named Zhu cha or pearl tea by the tea makers, and gradually developed into one of the most popular Chinese tea out there.
The fact that it looks very similar to gunpowder pellets made some people say that it derived its English name by a British clerk in the 18th century. Whereas, some also say that the tea was taken from China to the west by some British sailors.
When the production began, the tea leaves were actually picked by hand, withered to get rid of the moisture, and then the makers steamed and rolled the green tea leaves into tiny pellets by hand. Close attention was paid to make sure the leaves didn't break in the process.
In the present scenario, the task of picking and rolling the leaves is also performed by machines do the picking and rolling. However, when it comes to working up higher grades of the tea, people get it done by hand. The rolling makes the leaves stay fresh much longer than other teas, while also protecting them from damage and retaining more aroma and flavor.
When gunpowder green tea is steeped, the tea leaves unroll and explode to release the constituting nutrients and the great flavor. The tea has a slightly smoky taste that is also described by metallic or even earthy by some tea lovers. Speaking of the hue, gunpowder green tea sports a stronger shade of yellow than other green tea blends.
Another great feature about good quality gunpowder tea is that it can be stored for over a decade, that too without compromising in its flavor or potency. It comes in a number of varieties, while you can also combine gunpowder green tea with other teas to bring out brand new flavors.
The wonderful taste and aroma of gunpowder green tea also come with some great health benefits. The credit for the positive health effects goes to the presence of polyphenolic compounds, alkaloids, and catechins in the leaves. Catechins are flavonoids that influence the pathways that signal the cells. Below are some of the most prominent health benefits of this tea.
Gunpowder green tea is amazingly effective in protecting the body from cold and flu. In a study conducted in 2007 by the "American College of Nutrition" (1), researchers observed people who consumed green tea capsules or a placebo two times daily for three months. It was observed that 32% fewer people who consumed green tea experienced signs of colds and flu. Also, the gamma-delta T cells that combat illness were found in a larger amount than those who took a placebo.
Just like all other varieties of green tea, the catechins present in gunpowder green tea directly affect the inflammation in the gut as well as other digestive parts (2). In fact, a nice cup of this tea can provide you great relief if you are suffering from ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, constipation, cramping and other inflammatory problems in the stomach.
Regular consumption of gunpowder green tea reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems. Several pieces of research suggest that it reduces the levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglyceride (3). This, in turn, protects the body from any damage in the artery walls that can otherwise lead to a condition known as atherosclerosis or a fatal thickening of your arteries. The condition is also linked with increased risks of stroke and heart attack, but a controlled dose of green tea can prevent the same, as well as minimize the chances of coronary artery diseases. It also prevents blood clots from developing in the body.
Gunpowder green tea is largely known as a great Chinese weight loss solution that cuts on the body fat quickly in a healthy way. This tea features a wonderful combination of three major components, including caffeine, theanine, and catechins that are effective in burning fat and building muscles (4). Together, the three elements improve the metabolism, thereby allowing the body to burn fat rapidly. It's an awesome alternative to coffee as it contains more caffeine than most other varieties of green tea, further increasing the endurance of the body.
The consumption of gunpowder green tea improves insulin stability as well as increase glucose tolerance in the body (5). And this can work wonders for those who are suffering from diabetes. A good blend of healthy eating habits and a cup or two of gunpowder green tea can even prevent type II diabetes entirely. Also, make sure you lower your sugar intake by going for an unsweetened beverage.
The enzymes that lead to the development of cancer cells in the body are efficiently inhibited by gunpowder green tea by destroying free radicals. The minerals and flavonoids together make the body much stronger to combat cancer. (6)
Having gunpowder green tea may also leads to a longer life span. People who have green tea are less likely to die than a number of health conditions and diseases. According to a study (7) conducted in Japan, those who had the longest life expectancy had over 5 cups per day. Undoubtedly, this is a bit excessive and increases the intake of caffeine which is no longer healthy. So, the recommended intake was stated as 2-3 cups of green tea per day if you are looking out to increase your lifespan.
While green tea that constitutes 35-70 milligrams of caffeine per cup, gunpowder tea comes with slightly more caffeine. The amount may vary with the size of the cup, the tea leaf quality as well as the brewing method. Generally speaking, gunpowder tea from oolong leaves contain nearly 50-75 milligrams per cup, while the one made with black tea leaves constitutes about 60-90 milligrams of caffeine.
When consumed in moderation, gunpowder green tea doesn't lead to any side effects. However, excessive consumption of the beverage causes the following health problems.
The fact that gunpowder green tea comes with a higher amount of caffeine than all other green tea varieties makes it a stronger stimulant on the body (8). Those who are sensitive to stimulants can suffer from anxiety if consuming more than 2 cups of tea.
The stimulating nature of gunpowder green tea prevents you from falling asleep. Caffeine-sensitive people shouldn't have this tea in the evening or afternoon. Also, it must be avoided by those who suffer from disturbed sleep or insomnia. If you struggle with insomnia or frequently disturbed sleep (9).
Excess of gunpowder green tea can lead to gastrointestinal distress due to the effects of caffeine. Having the beverage on an empty stomach leads to discomfort and indigestion (10).
The fact that the pellets expand on steeping, it is recommended to use only 1-2 teaspoons of gunpowder green tea per 150ml of water. While tea enthusiasts around the world go for different brewing methods, the simplest way to make this tea is to brew it in the cup with hot water poured from a temperature-controlled teapot.
Some people prepare a great version of gunpowder green tea, i.e. the Moroccan mint tea. Worked up by adding sugar and mint to gunpowder tea after the brewing process is complete, this version comes with a light and refreshing flavor.
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