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.