Friday, May 14, 2010

Tea Brick

This is what a tea brick looks like.


Sometimes I use it for a coaster or trivet when serving tea.
So far I haven't wanted to break it up and drink it.
I think it is too pretty.
Yes, it is tea compressed into a brick form.

mightyleaf.com posted The Legacy of the Tea Brick.  You can visit that sight to read the whole article, but here is an exerpt, Enjoy!


Steeping loose leaf tea in water has not always been the dominant method of tea preparation.  Prior to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in ancient China, the tea brick, compressed tea made of  ground or whole tea leaves pressed into a block form using a mold, was one of the most popular forms of tea produced and consumed.  People also commonly used tea bricks as currency.  Today, the legacy of tea bricks lives on – you can find a variety of compressed black teas, green teas, pu-erh teas and more.
The tea brick developed originally to help preserve tea and facilitate trade.  Generally, production involved drying tea leaves, grinding them into a powdered form, compressing into brick forms and then curing or aging.  The shape and size of the form varied depending upon the region, and often included text or pictures.  Sometimes dried whole leaves were used and binding agents like flour used to create a dense brick.  Durability and a smaller physical footprint than loose tea leaves became important as people used the bricks for currency and trade.
While other forms of preparation existed, at the time one of the more common methods included boiling the tea.  A piece of the brick was broken off and added to boiling water.  Another method was to roast the tea first over a fire before boiling.  Roasting added flavor and may have been used to sanitize the tea from any impurities collected during its travels.

17 comments:

Jeanne said...

So gorgeous and lovely is everything that you share
Love and hugs and many blessings

CindyW said...

I like the idea of using it as a tea coaster! I'm always tempted to buy one (or ask for one as a birthday/Christmas gift), but then I wonder what I'd do with it. Frame it like art? Stick it in a cupboard to bring out and look at occasionally?

Tea coaster is definitely a better choice. :)

Rosemary said...

I love my tea brick! And I love your clever uses for your tea brick! I wouldn't suggest you ever break it up and use it though, as I believe they are now made more for the novelty of it then for actual use, and it is my understanding that the quality of tea used is pretty subpar. Enjoy it for its beauty!
Nancy

dutchbaby said...

I would have trouble dissolving this beautiful brick too! I bet the warmth of the teapot releases some of the brick's tea aroma.

Laurie said...

I've never heard of a tea brick, it's kind of fascinating! I don't even know where I would look for one, but what an original Christmas gift for my sister!

Time Traveling in Costume said...

I've never seen one of those, and I think I would be trying to figure out how they made tea from it. Good to know it's better to be used as decoration.

Dogmom Diva said...

Hi, just found your blog via Beverly! I have never, ever heard of a tea brick, gosh you learn something new each day..I would not use it, I would enjoy it's beauty!
Nice to meet you!
Barb

Catherine said...

Love the tea brick - I saw one in Lismore castle Arts gallery last summer but it was a ton of tea - an art installantion by Ai Wei, the guy who designed the Bird's Nest olympic swimming pool. There's a photo of it on my blogpost from that exhibition - it was huge - a cubic metre or so. I didn't know there were such things available as tea bricks for general use like you described! Blogging is such fun, you learn something new every day! Hope you keep visiting my blog - I am making an effort to be diligent on my posting and commenting!
All the best, Catherine.
here's the link to that post on ton of tea
http://deise-dispatches.blogspot.com/2009/09/lismore-castle-arts-challenging.html

La Tea Dah said...

Your tea brick is beautiful. You have discovered some creative ways to use it. I will try them --- as they would enhance a tea table so well. My tea brick is kept in my china closet, perched on a photo stand. It makes my china closet smell so delightful! I love to imagine pioneers going into a Hudson Bay Company store to buy a brick or two of tea before they started the next phase of their journey west.

Cathy said...

Excellent post, Marilyn. Thanks for all the interesting info.

kimberly shaw said...

Impressive! These tea bricks are like works of art, it would be hard for me to break one apart. They are beautiful and I have never seen them before. Thanks for sharing, this has been a wonderful read.

Love your yellow post, also. Yellow is such a cheery color, and we can always use more cheer! The photos are lovely, they definitely cheered me up.

Have a terrific day!!! Ox

koralee said...

Wow...that is so amazing...love it and I agree would not want to break it up either. xoxo

Annie said...

Oh wow, Marilyn. I'm dazzled.

krys kirkpatrick said...

I love this. I want to frame it. Thank-you for your visit.

Angela McRae said...

Beautiful! I'd be very curious to know what the tea tastes like, but like you, I couldn't bear to break it off!

Duchess of Tea said...

Hello darling popped in to let you know I treasure our friendship and to thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for the heartfelt comments you leave behind even when I am unable to return the visit, you are a gem of a friend. I pray to have the opportunity to meet you in person one day my friend.

Take care my darling
Love & Hugs
Duchess

susanna said...

Fascinating. I saw an illustration of a tea brick in a book about tea months ago...and you actually have one! Cool!