decorative tea brick I found. What kind of tea is this?


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decorative tea brick I found. What kind of tea is this?

Postby kongni » Jul 9th, '08, 20:40

I recently found this brick of tea at a garage sale. Does anyone know what kind of tea this is? I found similar images of bricks like this through doing Google image searches but there seems to be conflicting information on what kind of tea it could be. Any insight about this would be greatly appreciated! :D

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Postby Space Samurai » Jul 9th, '08, 21:51

Puerh and some oolong are the only tea that I know of that's pressed into bricks, so I'm guessing its puerh.
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Postby Geekgirl » Jul 9th, '08, 22:27

Very pretty! I asked about a brick like that at the Serenity Art teastore here. The lady told me "not for drinking yuck. only for look."
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Re: decorative tea brick I found. What kind of tea is this?

Postby chamekke » Jul 9th, '08, 22:29

kongni wrote:I recently found this brick of tea at a garage sale. Does anyone know what kind of tea this is? I found similar images of bricks like this through doing Google image searches but there seems to be conflicting information on what kind of tea it could be. Any insight about this would be greatly appreciated! :D


There are photos of a brick just like it on the Silk Road Tea website (Victoria, British Columbia). See the bottom of this page:

http://www.silkroadtea.com/shaped_teas.htm

The ALT text on the photos in question says "tea brick front" and "tea brick back" respectively, so I don't know whether they illustrate the green tea brick ("spring flush Chinese green tea from Mt. Lushan") or the black tea brick ("Chinese Keemun black tea grown in Anhwei").

Here are the photos:

Image Image
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Postby andycr512 » Jul 10th, '08, 10:07

I have one. I'm fairly certain it's just plain tea, not Pu Ehr. It was apparently used by caravans - they would break off a chunk and put it in boiling water. Because it was made with such large, poor quality tea leaves, many would get flouride poisoning from drinking it (flouride accumulates in the old leaves).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_brick
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Postby Wesli » Jul 10th, '08, 11:44

As you can tell, these aren't made of whole leaves. The one you have has been pressed from ground tea powder which allows the artistic pressing. The brick you have is a Hunan mi zhuan cha (米磚茶), made of powdered black tea (red tea). I hope you like it! I think they make great household decorations.
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Postby kongni » Jul 14th, '08, 19:50

Thanks for helping me identify this mysterious tea!
Looks like it is in fact some kind of black tea. I'm not planning on preparing any of it for drinking but as wesli pointed out, they *do* make great decorations! :D

I found an interesting blurb on the traditional preparation of this tea from wikipedia. It sounds a LOT like matcha preparation!!! Wow!

The link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_culture

The excerpt:

Tea served prior to the Ming Dynasty was typically made from tea bricks. Upon harvesting, the tea leaves were either partially dried or were thoroughly dried and ground before being pressed into bricks. The pressing of Pu-erh is likely a vestige of this process. Tea bricks were also sometimes used as currency. To improve its resiliency as currency, some tea bricks were mixed with binding agents such as blood. Serving the tea from tea bricks required multiple steps:

* Toasting: Tea bricks are usually first toasted over a fire to destroy any mould or insects that may have burrowed into the tea bricks. Such infestation sometimes occurred since the bricks were stored openly in warehouses and storerooms. Toasting also likely imparted a pleasant flavour to the resulting tea.
* Grinding: The tea brick was broken up and ground to a fine powder. This practice survives in Japanese powdered tea (Matcha).
* Whisking: The powdered tea was mixed into hot water and frothed with a whisk before serving. The colour and patterns formed by the powdered tea were enjoyed while the mixture was imbibed.

The ground and whisked teas used at that time called for dark and patterned bowls in which the texture of the tea powder suspension could be enjoyed. The best of these bowls, glazed in patterns with names like oil spot, partridge-feather, hare's fur, and tortoise shell, are highly valued today. The patterned holding bowl and tea mixture were often lauded in the period's poetry with phrases such as "partridge in swirling clouds" or "snow on hare's fur". Tea in this period was enjoyed more for its patterns and less for its flavour. The practice of using powdered tea can still be seen in the Japanese Tea ceremony or Chado.
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