Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.

By Jess Hodges

I may have found the smoke for my bonfire night celebrations but as anyone who's ever been to one knows it's just not up to scratch without the gunpowder. Luckily tea can provide me with that as well.

Chinese gunpowder tea is a green tea the leaves of which are individually rolled into pellets. This protects them and allows them to produce a more aromatic, intense brew. It can be historically traced to the Tang Dynasty as far back as the seventh century.

There are two theories as to how this tea got it's name, it may simply be a derivative of the Chinese gāng paò de which means freshly brewed or from the similarity in appearance between the rolled leaves and the gunpowder used in firearms.

Gunpowder tea isn't roasted giving it a fresher taste than other green teas. All except the really expensive stuff is now rolled by machine but otherwise it's production remains unchanged. It's grown in the Zheijang province on the east coast of China. Zheijang has traditionally been called the land of fish and rice but it is also the land of extraordinary tea, producing more than any other province in China. Zheijang also produces Longjing tea or dragon well tea, an extremely famous green tea of exceptionally high quality, known as the national drink of China and enjoyed by world leaders.

My second cup of Guy Fawkes tea may not be producing any actual explosions (except of flavour!) but a tea resembling gunpowder from the country that invented fireworks seems like a fitting way to round off the evening. When I'm celebrating back in England this time next year maybe I'll incorporate this calmer tribute amidst all the mayhem of smoke and gunpowder.

Happy bonfire night everyone.