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Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Unique Tea: Brick Tea

It's real tea. It's compressed. And it's been around for over a thousand years. It's "brick" tea. And it's pretty darned unique!

Making tea from a tea brick was easy: just carve or shave some off and add boiling water. During the Song dynasty, the widely popular tea beverage became even more important as an item of trade, and these compressed "bricks" of tea were scored on one side and used as currency. They were of uniform size and weight and usually embossed with Chinese characters or scenes. Tea bricks were so commonly accepted as currency in Tibet that sometimes horses and swords were priced according to the number of tea bricks they would bring.

Although tea bricks are less commonly produced these days (other than for decorative purposes), many post-fermented teas, such as pu-erh (below), are still commonly found in bricks, discs, and other pressed forms.

Click here to learn more about tea bricks.


Marilyn Miller said...

I use to buy the bird's nest compressed tea at the Chinese Herbal shop, but haven't for awhile. It is fascinating.

Rosemary said...

Oh... and the fragrance of a Tea Brick... love it!

Jason Witt said...

Pu-erh is my new favorite tea. It often does come in a brick, or cake, just like in the old days. It's probably an acquired taste and it's taken me the longest of any tea to get to know and like. But this longest romancing seems to have produced the most lasting relationship too. --Spirituality of Tea

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