Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Shanghai Tiantan International Trading Co, Temple of Heaven Special Gunpowder
The best Gunpowder Green Tea is Temple of Heaven Brand. It's not only famous in China but also all over the world.Gunpowder Green Tea derives its name from the shape of its finished tea. The very dark green tea leaves have been rolled into little pellets which look like gunpowder to some connoisseurs.Meanwhile people call it Gunpowder Because: The tea is so well curled and tightened which looks like a small ball or pearl; when you put the tea into your hands, you feel it is heavy; when you pour boiling water into the tea, you can see all large tea leaves spreading out immediately just like explosion. Good Gunpowder Tea uses older tea leaves unlike other varieties of green tea. Tea steeped from Gunpowder has a dark golden color, roasted or toasted taste with a strong aftertaste lingering in the front palette, and a strong roasted or toasted aroma. You can also judge the quality of Gunpowder Green by its appearance. The well tightened and curled tea looks like tiny pearl with dark-green shining color.
This is a staple on the shelves in Asian and international food marts. At least it is around here. Registered as Temple of Heaven brand, this tea is distributed by Shanghai Tiantan International Trading Co. It is very inexpensive and deceptively packaged. The little cardboard cube holds 125g (1.41oz) of tea leaf. It is about 1/3 the size of a Twinings tin holding the same weight and 1/3 the price.
Removing the plastic outer wrap and opening the box reveals a paper sack holding the shiny tightly curled leaf. I have had this tea years ago, before I understood what it was. I recall thinking it was strongly smoky like a Lapsang Souchong. Today this has little aroma.
I checked the expiration date on the bottom of the box. This is well within the best by date. It has probably been exposed to too much heat and light. Or my memory is just wrong. My intention is to use this by adding herbs I have grown and just experimenting. Still, it is disappointing knowing my review of it straight may already be tainted.
This is a danger of buying from a food market that does not specialize in tea. Things aren't always properly cared for and can sit too long. Since this is the real world conditions you may encounter, I press on.
Because this leaf is so tightly compressed, I used less than I would normally think necessary. I did not have the product description above when steeping this, so I was unaware they recommend boiling water. I used 190F water in my press and steeped for about 3 minutes. The result is a golden orange brew that is slightly cloudy. It reminds me of apple cider that is nearly clear. The pellets expanded in to large pieces of leaf.
The taste is lightly roasted or toasted, just as claimed. It is similar to a very mild genmaicha. Slightly sweet. Not really astringent but there is a hint of a bite. There is no bitterness. Halfway through the cup I decided to throw in some ice cubes. This made a very refreshing and inexpensive iced tea! Next, I decided to see if the leaves would stand up to a second steep. The wet leaf instead of a toasty aroma is more seaweed. The brew is lighter, more orange. Instead of cider it looks like a glass of Lipton when all the ice has melted. The taste is more earthy than before, not toasted. It is a different cup. A little weak but drinkable.
This tea won't knock your socks off but for what I paid, it is better than it has to be. I am looking forward to adding mints, verbena, and who knows what else in some mad scientist experiments.