Gunpowder tea (Chinese: 珠茶; pinyin: zhū chá; lit. 'pearl tea'; pronounced [ʈʂú ʈʂʰǎ]) is a form of tea in which each leaf has been rolled into a small round pellet. Its English name comes from its resemblance to grains of gunpowder. This rolling method of shaping tea is most often applied either to dried green tea (the most commonly encountered variety outside China) or oolong tea.Gunpowder tea production dates back to the Tang Dynasty 618–907. It was first introduced to Taiwan in the nineteenth century. Gunpowder tea leaves are withered, steamed, rolled, and then dried. Although the individual leaves were formerly rolled by hand, today all but the highest grade gunpowder teas are rolled by machines. Rolling renders the leaves less susceptible to physical damage and breakage and allows them to retain more of their flavor and aroma. In addition, it allows certain types of oolong teas to be aged for decades if they are cared for by being occasionally roasted.Shiny pellets indicate that the tea is relatively fresh. Pellet size is also associated with quality, larger pellets being considered a mark of lower quality tea. High quality gunpowder tea will have small, tightly rolled pellets.
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