• Compressed tea is common in the West and South-West China.
  • Compressed tea cake should be stored in contact with air at room temperature to allow continuous fermentation. Pu’Er tea ages like wine and after a few decades, it can really go up in value.
  • Although Kung Fu brewing is fine, best way to prepare compress tea is to boil (unusual way to prepare Chinese tea) it in order to extract full flavor out of the tea. Very “tough” kind of tea it is.

It Get’s Personal

Before the end of 2001, I thought compressed tea is low grade tea packed for easy storage. And compressed tea is something the Tibetans drink as a from of beverage, not anything of interest for those who seeks the way of tea.

Pu’er is a favorite tea used for compressed tea. It’s also a common dim sum restaurant tea. It sits in the background while people chat and have yummy dim sum and the tea gets uncomfortably dark after staying in the teapot for a while. I have never considered Pu’er something I would enjoy in it’s own right.

At the beginning of 2002, a friend of mine insisted that I taking him to the tea ally’s shop to get some nice Pu’er. With a little reluctance, we went.All the high grade Pu’er (loose leaf version) at the tea shop couldn’t keep me from watching the clock with half-opened eyes. “Are you done Mr. Friend? Pu’er is just not my cup of tea” I was mumbling. Then the tea ally pulled his secret weapon – a Pu’er tea cake which has been aged for a few years.

First impression was good as the color of the tea made from the tea cake looked clear and, well, very tea-ish. I took a sip and found the tea smooth, natural, and thick. WOW! Best of all, this compressed version of Pu’er doesn’t get dark after taking a long bath in the teapot. For the first time in history, I get to understand why Pu’er is the love of so many tea drinkers.

All the bad impressions about compressed tea and Pu’er are gone. I was just not drinking the right version of Pu’er in the first half of my existance. And consider some tea addicts paying the price of a brand new Honda Civic for an age tea cake, compressed tea got to be not too bad an idea.

So there I start to rediscover compressed tea and Pu’er.

Tea ClassName in ChineseMandarin Pronunciation (Place of origin – Tea name)Meaning in English
Compressed TeaBing ChaCake Tea
Compressed TeaTuo ChaPeg-top (referring to the shape) Tea
Compressed TeaZhuang ChaBrick Tea
Compressed TeaPu Er ChaPu’Er Tea