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Gunpowder Tea

What is Gunpowder tea

Gunpowder tea is a variation of green tea found in the Zhejiang province located in China. As the name suggests this tea comprises of manually rolled leaves in the form of tiny pinhead pellets bearing a striking similarity with gunpowder. Having a somewhat smoky, grassy, yet minty or peppery flavor, its caffeine content is higher than most other green teas.

Gunpowder Tea

Gunpowder Tea

Gunpowder Tea

History and Origin

The production of gunpowder tea dates back to the Tang dynasty (618 to 970 CE), though it gained popularity only during the 1800s when introduced in Taiwan. Known by the name of zhu cha, in Chinese, its small, round texture has also earned it the name ” pearl” or “bead” tea. According to legend, the name gunpowder was given by an Englishman, who found the small rolled up tea leaves to be similar to the grayish, dark, irregularly shaped gunpowder pellets. Another alternative explanation may be its preparation ways as the tiny pellets into which the grayish-green leaf is rolled into explodes to a long leaf when steeped in heated water. Moreover, this tea when brewed is referred to as” gang pao de” in Mandarin Chinese that sounds similar to gunpowder.

This tea is used in the preparation of the North African or Moroccan Mint tea in the Maghreb region by adding mint along with honey or sugar to gunpowder tea during the brewing process.

Chinese Gunpowder Tea

Chinese Gunpowder Tea

Gunpowder green tea health benefits

For weight loss

The presence of catechins, theanine, and caffeine in gunpowder tea helps in stimulating the metabolic rate, thus aiding in burning fats as well as building up muscles.  A cup of this tea, taken before working out can give better results.

Useful for arthritis

These catechins also have the ability to prevent the breakdown of collagen, helping in reducing the inflammation caused due to osteoarthritis. Animal studies have even suggested the anti-rheumatic activities displayed by the catechins thus being potentially beneficial for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

High in fluoride

Chinese researchers have shown that gunpowder tea contains a considerable amount of fluoride, thus being effective in reducing cavities and maintaining dental health. In fact, 10 grams gunpowder tea contains the daily requirement of fluoride (1 to 2 milligrams) in your body.

Type 2 diabetes

As it facilitates in lowering the levels of cholesterol triglyceride, drinking this tea might prove useful in preventing Type II diabetes. Studies have further shown that it also aids in improving insulin sensibility and glucose tolerance. Patients suffering from diabetes can have a cup of this tea daily along with maintaining healthy habits to get useful results.

Gunpowder Tea Photos

Gunpowder Tea Photos

Contains antioxidants

The presence of antioxidants such as EGCG, polyphenols, and flavonoids helps in protecting the body against oxidative stress as well as free radicals, thus working towards restricting the growth of cancer cells in the body. It may also contribute in minimizing chances of cardiovascular disease, fighting symptoms of influenza and flu, as well as boosting the immune system. The antioxidant properties can help in maintaining a good skin health, while its mild astringent properties makes it useful in healing wounds quickly.

For blood pressure

Like most other green teas, this one too helps in lowering blood pressure, primarily because of the flavonoids present in it. Studies have shown that people having green tea for about a year witnessed about 65% of low blood pressure level in comparison to those who did not. In fact, the group consuming two and a half cups of tea each day saw a marked improvement in their blood pressure levels.

However, if you are already on medications for high blood pressure, consult your healthcare provider before having this tea.

Good energy drink

Because of the rich caffeine content, drinking this tea helps in energizing and rejuvenating your mind, making it popular among athletes to increase their endurance.

How to make Chinese gunpowder tea


  • One teaspoon of gunpowder pellets
  • Six to eight ounces of water
  • A large vessel as the pellets may expand or unfurl when heated or a teapot or gaiwan (a cup with a lid used for brewing in the traditional Chinese way).


  • Take the gunpowder pellets and put it in the vessel or container.
  • Boil the water at a temperature of 175°F and 185°F and pour it over the pellets to brew it.
  • Steep for one to two minutes.
  • Stream the tea and serve it hot.
  • You can use the same leaves when brewing for the second time though you need to steep it for a little longer.

The tea acquires a yellow color after brewing along with a thick and strong flavor similar to honey. You can use it for up to three brews if desired. Store them in a container if you are not brewing immediately. However, allow the leaves to rest for a while before using them for the third time as over usage might burn them, making them lose their flavor or nutritious value.

Gunpowder Green Tea

Gunpowder Green Tea

Gunpowder Tea Pictures

Gunpowder Tea Pictures

Safety and Precautions

Side effects

Though Gunpowder tea is not known to have any severe side effects, overconsumption may lead to nausea and stomach ache. Owing to its caffeine content, drinking this tea might cause nervousness, irritability or insomnia. Thus, one should refrain from having it in the evening or before bedtime.

During pregnancy

Consumption of gunpowder tea during pregnancy is not a good option as it has caffeine in it. Breastfeeding mothers are also to seek medical advice before having it.

Gunpowder Tea Images

Gunpowder Tea Images

Where to buy

While purchasing this tea, go for the ones with small-sized and shiny pellets because of the freshness. In fact, larger ones have a lower quality. You can opt for different varieties like Pingshui Gunpowder (sold by the name of Pinhead or Temple of Heaven gunpowder), Formosa Gunpowder, and Ceylon Gunpowder. You can purchase Gunpowder tea online or in stores selling herbal teas.

Article was last reviewed on 6th December 2022

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