We do know with certainty what his favorites were. In the Mount Vernon Museum there is a record that the Washingtons purchased several different
varieties of Chinese tea, including Bahea, Congo, Green, Gunpowder, Hy-son, and Imperial. Martha Washington
’s granddaughter wrote that her grandfather typically had meals of "three small mush cakes (Indian meal) swimming in butter and honey" and "three cups of tea without cream.''
One of the teas the President drank was what we call Gunpowder tea
, common in China since the Tang Dynasty in the 7th Century, though it was not called this in the 18th Century. It was known then as Green Pearl Bahea and Hyson. In 1800 a British clerk noticed that the tightly rolled tea leaves resembled pelleted gunpowder for cannons. This helped to preserve freshness and made it a very compact package for transportation. In the 19th Century two-thirds of all tea exported to the United States was the Gunpowder variety. The name Bahea vanished and Hy-son became the name for a long-leaved version rather than the pellets.
In our collection we have several Gunpowder teas
and one called Hy-Son Lucky Dragon. Gunpowder
is a more concentrated beverage than any other green tea variety. Use 1/2 teaspoon per cup. The leaves will open up and the olive-colored drink will surprise you with its sweet, slightly pungent flavor, subtle smoky notes, and lemony aftertaste. This tea is known for stimulating mental focus, helping to get things done and enhancing physical energy.