Fireworks & Green Gunpowder Welcome the New Year of the Horse!
Have you ever been in a Chinese city, or in an American city’s Chinatown during a New Year’s celebration? The city literally bursts to life with firecrackers during the colorful and raucous multi-day party! Setting off excessive amounts of firecrackers and beating drums is a central tradition at Chinese New Year, and is intended to scare away all the evil spirits with the loud noises.
Gunpowder was first invented in China during the Tang Dynasty (628 – 905). During these ancient times, firecrackers (“Phow Chook” in Chinese) were just gunpowder wrapped in paper, lit with a paper or bamboo fuse. By the time of the Sung Dynasty (960-1279) fireworks had been invented in China, but firecrackers have remained the popular noisemaker of choice during the New Years celebration.
The leaves of gunpowder green tea are hand rolled into the shape of little pellets, and with their steely sheen, resemble gunpowder. Gunpowder tea leaves stay fresh longer than any other green tea leaves, thanks to their compressed state. For a green tea, Gunpowder tastes strong and hearty. As its leaves unfurl, they release a smoky oak aroma, and a subtle vegetal flavor, with a hint of a sweet finish.
The process for making Chinese green tea was developed during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1628). Green tea is never allowed to wither and ferment – the oxidation is arrested as soon as possible, either by steaming, or firing in large pans or baskets. All the dampness is removed, and tea leaves harvested in the morning can be ready to be brewed the same night. The bypass of fermentation allows green tea to retain most of its natural (green) leaf color, antioxidants, V its min C, chlorophyll and minerals.
So to welcome this new year of the horse! We’re starting this year off with our own version of firecracker – Gunpowder green tea leaves bursting open in our cups! Many Healthy and Happy Returns to All :)
Below photos from Los Angeles Chinatown New Year of the Horse Parade, Saturday Feb 1, 2014