What Is Gunpowder Tea And Why Is It So Popular?

by Steven Popec 29. August 2012 20:13

At ESP Emporium, China Gunpowder Organic Green Tea is one of our most popular blends. But what is Gunpowder tea? And what makes it so popular? Let’s find out!

Gunpowder tea is one of the world’s oldest types of tea. Instead of allowing the tea leaves to spread out, gunpowder tea is created by rolling each leaf into a tight little ball. The term ‘Gunpowder’ tea comes from the fact that each little leaf resembles gunpowder grains. And, after being exposed to hot water, each gunpowder tea leaf ‘explodes’ and expands, furthering the gunpowder metaphor.

The Tang Dynasty (618-907) was the first group to start making Gunpowder tea. However, it was mainly after production migrated to Taiwan in the 19th century that Gunpowder tea become more popular. During this period, gunpowder tea leaves were painstakingly rolled by hand – a process which took a lot longer than creating other types of tea.

Today, most Gunpowder tea is rolling by machines, although it is possible to find some (particularly the higher-grade ones) which are still rolled by hand. Most tea drinkers feel that small, tightly rolled pellets help enhance the flavor, and lower-quality Gunpowder tea blends are distinguished by larger, less tightly rolled pellets.

The best way to assess the flavor and freshness of Gunpowder tea is to look at the shininess of its pellets. In most cases, shiny pellets indicate that the tea is quite fresh.

Advantages of Gunpowder tea

If you’ve looked at our Best Selling Tea page lately, then you might have noticed that China Gunpowder tea is one of our most popular green loose leaf teas. Why is it so popular? Here are a few reasons why people love drinking Gunpowder tea:

-A unique and powerful flavor: Instead of breaking down the flavor in the leaves, the rolling process intensifies the flavor. Rolling the leaves into a tight ball prevents them from experiencing physical damage, which ultimately leads to more flavor retention.

-Can be aged for decades: Unlike other types of tea, Gunpowder tea can be aged for decades in order to unlock different flavors. However, it’s important to note that proper maintenance (like periodic roasting) is required over this period.

-Different varieties and flavors: Gunpowder tea comes in a number of different styles, including Ceylon Gunpowder tea (from Sri Lanka), Formosa Gunpowder tea (from Taiwan), and Pingshui Gunpowder tea (from the Pingshui region in China).

-Worldwide appeal: Gunpowder tea is popular in a wide variety of cultures. In North Africa, Gunpowder tea is used in the preparation of mint tea, which plays a key role at social gatherings. It’s also commonly consumed in China, Taiwan.

-Thicker, stronger taste: Gunpowder tea has a unique taste. In terms of flavor, gunpowder tea has been described as being grassy, minty, or peppery. It’s also thicker and stronger than most other teas, and its texture almost resembles ‘soft’ honey with a pleasant, smokey aftertaste. When brewed, gunpowder tea is yellow in color.

The History of Ceylon Tea

by Elena Popec 23. July 2012 13:28

As you might know, ‘Ceylon’ is the former name of Sri Lanka, a large island country off the coast of India in the Indian Ocean. But what’s the story behind Ceylon tea?  Some of ESP Emporium’s most popular black tea blends come from Ceylon. Today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Ceylon black tea.

Ceylon’s tea industry is an important part of its economy. In fact, it’s the country’s largest employer. In total, Sri Lanka’s tea industry employs approximately 1 million people, making Sri Lanka the 3rd largest tea producing country on the planet.

Sri Lanka was once a British colony. Contrary to what you might believe, the first major crop in Sri Lanka was coffee, not tea. However, after the island’s coffee plantations caught a serious disease in the 1860s, Ceylon’s residents were left looking for another productive crop.

Tea swiftly replaced coffee as the island’s number one crop. Ceylon’s residents experimented with tea growing methods, cultivation techniques, and leaf manipulation in order to maximize the country’s output. Ceylon’s tea growing efforts were particularly aided by the efforts of a Scotsman by the name of James Taylor. He called Ceylon the “Pearl” of the Indian Ocean and recognized the island’s natural affinity for growing tea.

Because of the efforts of Taylor and other tea enthusiasts, Ceylon tea was soon being prized around the world. International demand grew rapidly over the years, and tea quickly turned into Ceylon’s most profitable plantation crop.

Sri Lanka’s tea estates

Ultimately, Ceylon’s booming tea industry led to the creation of a number of important tea estates in the central part of the country. During the British period, these tea estates were ruled over by a group of landlords called English Tea Barons, and as a result, many of the estates feature colonial Tudor styling and design.

Today, those tea estates provide valuable foreign exchange revenue and offer a reliable source of employment for approximately one million Tamils. The tea estates are located in both highland and lowland areas and offer a picturesque view of the surrounding countryside. Visitors to the country often visit Sri Lanka’s famous tea estates, and the estates continue to be the country’s most important source of revenue.

Sri Lanka tea benefits

Ceylon tea is rumored to have a number of powerful benefits. Namely, Ceylon black tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. Like many East Asian teas, Ceylon tea is derived from the camellia sinensis plant, which has been linked to everything from healthy healths to weight loss. Because of all these benefits, Ceylon tea is valued around the world.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Ceylon tea is known throughout the world for its top-quality aroma, flavor, and health benefits. The country has a rich history in tea production that continues to be prominent to this day. Whether you’re visiting Sri Lanka or just drinking Ceylon tea, every sip you take is one steeped in history.

Sri Lanka’s Tea Industry Could Pass $5 Billion In Exports By 2020

by Steven Popec 18. July 2012 11:43

As one of the world’s largest tea producers, we’re used to seeing massive tea production numbers from Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka’s Daily News is reporting that the country’s tea industry could achieve $5 billion USD in exports by the year 2020.

Since the entire country’s GDP is worth approximately $50 billion, the fact that tea could be worth about 10% of that amount is notable. However, the important thing to realize about this news is that the country’s tea production would not necessarily increase, but the price of Ceylon tea would.

Sri Lanka’s Treasury Secretary stated last week that production of tea is only expected to increase by 2% to 3% by 2020. Prices, however, could be raised by as much as triple their current price. The statement was made at the 118th Annual General Meeting of the Colombo Tea Traders Association, held June 29th in Sri Lanka’s capital.

This means that, within the next 5 to 10 years, prices on Ceylon tea could raise dramatically. Ceylon tea is famous for its black tea blends, as well as its connection to various health benefits. Of course, many people find Ceylon tea to have a delicious taste as well.

  The Treasury Secretary also urged Sri Lankan tea manufacturers to work together to ‘brand’ the country’s tea in order to collectively increase its value throughout the world. While Ceylon tea is a name known by most tea drinkers throughout the world, it’s not quite on the level of other famous brands, like Earl Grey tea or Oolong.

Interestingly enough, many in Sri Lanka view tea as a “rich man’s drink.” Most of the country’s tea crops are exported to places all over the world or consumed at higher prices locally. Cheaper teas are often imported, allowing locals to profit off of the high prices paid for Ceylon tea around the world. 

What’s the secret behind Sri Lankan tea?

You might know Sri Lankan tea better as ‘Ceylon’ tea. Ceylon was the name of the country under British rule during the 19th century. The British had a profound influence on the country’s tea production, turning the sub-tropical island nation from a coffee-producing country to a tea-producing powerhouse in an incredibly short period of time.

Today, the investments made by the British government are clearly paying off. Not only does the country earn millions of dollars in tourist revenue due to its beautiful British colonial-style tea plantations (which are scattered throughout the countryside), but Sri Lanka also depends upon the infrastructure and administrative systems established by the British in order to manage the country’s tea resources.

Since Sri Lanka has only recently become stable after the end of its civil war, its tea industry – and the country as a whole – is expected to grow at a rapid pace over the coming years. Some even expect Sri Lanka’s GDP to grow to $100 million by 2020, which means that tea production would account for far less than 25% of that amount.

As of now, ESP Emporium’s Ceylon tea prices haven’t changed, and we don’t expect them to rise dramatically at any time in the near future. If the price of Ceylon tea does change by double or triple its current price at any time over the coming years, our ESP Emporium blog will be the first to let you know.

Russian Tea Drinking Tradition

by Elena Popec 7. September 2011 09:32

Russian tea drinking tradition, along with some other Russian customs, has long been a hallmark of the country. Nevertheless, to describe the attributes of Russian tea drinking: samovar (meaning "self-boiler" in Russian), loose leaf black tea, pancakes, jam, cubed sugar, sliced lemon, cups in cup holders, porcelain set… Unfortunately, very few people drink tea in accordance with this attributes, because almost no one these days uses a samovar.

This old Russian tea drinking tradition becomes history, but still lives and breathes in Russia and around the world where Russian emigrants make their homes. Russian literature often invokes the samovar to symbolize Russian hospitality. Gathering around the table by a samovar with family and friends evokes a sense of cosines and comfort, which is an important element in our busy lives. Let me just try to formulate some of the characteristics of tea drinking, which can be classified as specifically Russian.

A real Russian tea party requires a porcelain tea set; a classical Russian tea set is "Cobalt net" of the Imperial Lomonosov’s Porcelain Manufactory. These sets are often sold in duty free shops at the international airports of Russia and in numerous souvenir shops. Contrary to popular opinion, tea glasses even in the most exclusive holders are not the most accurate representation of the Russian tea drinking tradition. Since the 18th century, people who understood the sense in life and in tea-drinking, tried to get the porcelain set.

A very specific feature of Russian tea-drinking is samovar, a vessel with boiling water. In Russian tradition, tea leaves brewed in the porcelain pot, which is placed on the top of the samovar keeping the brew hot. In most major tea drinking cultures, Chinese, Japanese and English, tea leaves steep, a brew is poured in a cup and drunk. In Russia, a brew is diluted with hot water directly in a cup, that’s why besides the standard tea set, tea party in Russia involves a samovar with boiling water.

Another important part of Russian tea-drinking tradition is a simple and obvious lemon, cut in thin slices, not wedges, since circles look beautiful on a plate and in a cup. In fact, the whole world believes that tea with lemon is a Russian invention, often called "Russian tea". 

However, the most important feature of a Russian tea party is tea itself. Of course, it should be black tea. Historically, it was Chinese tea, such as Keemun or a blend based on it "Russian Caravan" or “Russian Samovar”. Chinese tea was drunk in Russia for three centuries, and only in the 20th century adjusted traditionally established tea preferences. Nowadays, most Russians prefer a rich aroma and strong taste of Ceylon tea over subtle taste of Chinese teas. Often, both teas are served at the party, Chinese in respect to century’s old tradition and Ceylon in respect to modern tea taste.

When at the table served with samovar full of boiling water, porcelain tea set, two teapots (with Chinese and Ceylon tea), a plate with a stack of pancakes, a few fresh baked pies (with apples, cherries, cheese, cabbage and all sorts of fillings…), several kinds of jam (strawberry, cherry, blueberry, lingoberry, cloudberry, raspberry…), honey, condensed sweet milk, sliced lemon and cubed sugar, one will understand what is a true Russian made happiness. Laughing

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