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Tea Bricks Compressed Black Tea Cake


Black Tea
Water volume:
85 °C

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Tea bricks are perhaps one of the most visually striking forms of processed tea in the world. The origin of the brick is rooted in the ancient spice trading routes of the ancient Far East in and around the 9th century. Traders and caravan herders transported everything they had by camel or on horseback so all goods had to be designed to take up as little space a possible. Tea producers wishing to export their product devised a way of compacting processed tea leaves by mixing it with stalk and tea dust and then pressing it tightly into forms and drying them in the sun. Centuries of trading made the tea bricks became so popular that by the 19th and even early 20th centuries, pieces broken from a brick were used as currency in Tibet, Mongolia, Siberia, and Northern China.

Compressed tea, called tea bricks, tea cakes or tea lumps, and tea nuggets according to the shape and size, are blocks of whole or finely ground black tea, green tea, or post-fermented tea leaves that have been packed in molds and pressed into block form. This was the most commonly produced and used form of tea in ancient China prior to the Ming Dynasty. Tea bricks can be made into beverages like tea or eaten as food, and were also used in the past as a form of currency.

Tea cakes are often misunderstood as those cakes that you consume as sides with your tea or any other beverage. However, tea cakes are compressed tea leaves given the firm shape of a cake with certain aromas and flavors.

These are quite popular, even more than loose tea leaves in some regions of china and japan. Let’s delve more into the details of what they are and how they’re made.

Understanding compressed tea cake:

Tea cakes are less common now than they were in the past. Prior to the Ming Dynasty, the ancient Chinese usually resorted to tea cakes for their teas. There are plenty of ways by which you can consume a tea cake, the most common of them all being in the form of liquid tea and beverages. However, it can also be eaten directly as a delicacy or snack or a side dish. In the ancient days, tea cakes were even used as a form of currency. Depending on the size of the cake, it can last you quite long since you only need a small piece of it to convert it into an instant, delicious beverage.

Black tea  |  Yunnan   |  Complete fermentation   |  Spring and Summer

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