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Encyclopedia > Tea brick
A compressed brick of pu-erh tea . Individual leaves can be seen on the surface of the brick.
A compressed brick of pu-erh tea . Individual leaves can be seen on the surface of the brick.

Tea bricks (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: , zhūan chá) or compressed tea (traditional: ; simplified: , jǐnyā chá) are blocks of whole or finely ground 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. Although tea bricks are less commonly produced in modern times, many post-fermented teas, such as pu-erh, are still commonly found in bricks, discs, and other pressed forms. Tea bricks can be made into beverages or eaten as a source of food, and were also used in the past as a form of currency. Image File history File links Zhuan_cha. ... Image File history File links Zhuan_cha. ... Pu-erh or Pu-er tea (Chinese: 普洱茶) is a fermented tea, named after Pu Erh region in Yunnan, China. ... Tea leaves in a Chinese gaiwan. ... Ming China under the Yongle Emperor Capital Nanjing (1368-1421) Beijing (1421-1644) Language(s) Chinese Government Monarchy Emperor  - 1368-1398 Hongwu Emperor  - 1627-1644 Chongzhen Emperor History  - Established in Nanjing January 23, 1368  - Fall of Beijing 1644  - End of the Southern Ming April, 1662 Population  - 1393 est. ... Post-fermented teas are a class of teas that have undergone a period of aging in open-air, from several months to many years. ... Pu-erh or Pu-er tea (Chinese: 普洱茶) is a fermented tea, named after Pu Erh region in Yunnan, China. ...

Contents

Production

In ancient China, compressed teas were usually made with thoroughly dried and ground tea leaves that were pressed into various bricks or other shapes, although partially dried and whole leaves were also used. Some tea bricks were also mixed with binding agents such as flour, blood, or manure in order to even better preserve their form such that they could withstand physical use as currency. Newly formed tea bricks were then left to cure, dry, and age prior to being sold or traded. Tea bricks were preferred in trade prior to the 19th century in Asia since they were more compact than loose leaf tea and were also less susceptible to physical damage incurred through transportation over land by caravans on the Ancient tea route. For other uses, see Flour (disambiguation). ... Human blood smear: a - erythrocytes; b - neutrophil; c - eosinophil; d - lymphocyte. ... For other uses, see Caravan (disambiguation). ... The Ancient Tea Route (Chinese: 茶马古道) was a network of mule caravan paths winding through the mountains of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. ...


Tea bricks are still currently manufactured for drinking, as in pu-erh teas, as well as for souvenirs and novelty items, though most compressed teas produced in modern times are usually made from whole leaves. The compressed tea can take various traditional forms, many of them still being produced. A dome-shaped nugget of 100g (standard size) is simply called tuóchá (沱茶), which is translated several ways, sometimes as "bird's nest tea" or "bowl tea." A small dome-shaped nugget with a dimple underneath just enough to make one pot or cup of tea is called a xiǎo tuóchá (小; the first word meaning "small") which usually weighs 3g–5g. A larger piece around 375g, which may be a disc with a dimple, is called bǐngchá (饼茶, literally "biscuit tea" or "cake tea"). A large, flat, square brick is called fángchá (方茶, literally "square tea").


In order to produce a tea brick, tea (either in ground or whole form) is first steamed, then placed into one of a number of types of press and compressed into a solid form. Such presses may leave an intended imprint on the tea, such as an artistic design or simply the pattern of the cloth with which the tea was pressed. Many powdered tea bricks are moistened with rice water in pressing to assure that the tea powder sticks together. The pressed blocks of tea are then left to dry in storage until a suitable degree of moisture has evaporated.


Consuming tea bricks

A brick of Hunan mǐ zhūan chá (米磚茶), made of powdered black tea
A brick of Hunan mǐ zhūan chá (米磚茶), made of powdered black tea

Due to their density and toughness tea bricks were traditionally consumed after they have been ground to a fine powder. The legacy of using of tea bricks in powdered form can be seen through modern Japanese tea powders as well as the pulverized tea leaves used in the lei cha (擂茶) eaten by the Hakka people. Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ...   (Chinese: ; pinyin: ) is a province of China, located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting (hence the name Hunan, meaning south of the lake). Hunan is sometimes called 湘 (pinyin: Xiāng) for short, after the Xiang River which runs through the province. ... Black tea Black tea is more oxidized than the green, oolong and white varieties; all four varieties are made from leaves of Camellia sinensis. ... Matcha IPA: ) is a fine, powdered green tea used particularly in Japanese tea ceremony, as well as to dye and flavour foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream and a variety of wagashi (Japanese confectionery). ... Lei cha (擂茶; lÄ›i chá; lit. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Beverage

In ancient China the use of tea bricks involved three separate steps:

  1. Toasting: A piece was broken from the tea brick and usually first toasted over a fire. This was likely done to sanitize the tea brick and destroy any molds or insects. Such infestations likely occurred when the bricks were stored openly in warehouses and storerooms or in covered jars underground. Toasting also imparted a pleasant flavor to the resulting tea.
  2. Grinding: The toasted tea brick was broken up and ground to a fine powder.
  3. Whisking: The powdered tea was mixed into hot water and frothed with a whisk before serving. The color and patterns formed by the powdered tea were enjoyed while the mixture was being imbibed.

In modern times, bricks of pu-erh type teas are flaked, chipped, or broken and directly steeped after thorough rinsing. The process of toasting, grinding, and whisking to make tea from tea bricks is now uncommon and not generally practiced. Disinfection is the destruction of pathogenic and other kinds of microorganisms by physical or chemical means. ...


Food

Tea bricks are used as a form of food in parts of Central Asia and Tibet in the past as much as in modern times. In Tibet pieces of tea are broken from tea bricks, and boiled overnight in water, sometimes with salt. The resulting concentrated tea infusion is then mixed with butter, cream or milk and little salt. Map of Central Asia showing three sets of possible boundaries for the region Central Asia located as a region of the world Central Asia is a vast landlocked region of Asia. ... Tibet (see Name section below for other spellings) is a plateau region in Central Asia and the indigenous home to the Tibetan people. ... Butter is commonly sold in sticks (pictured) or blocks, and frequently served with the use of a butter knife. ...


The tea mixed with tsampa is called Pah. Individual portions of the mixture are kneaded in a small bowl, formed into balls and eaten. Some cities of the Fukui prefecture in Japan have food similar to tsampa, where concentrated tea is mixed with grain flour. However, the tea may or may not be made of tea bricks. Tsampa (Tibetan: rtsam pa) is a Tibetan staple foodstuff, particularly prominent in the central part of the country. ... This article is about the city of Fukui. ... Tsampa (Tibetan: rtsam pa) is a Tibetan staple foodstuff, particularly prominent in the central part of the country. ...


In parts of Mongolia and central Asia, a mixture of ground tea bricks, grain flours and boiling water is eaten directly. It has been suggested that tea eaten whole provide for needed roughage normally lacking in the diet. Dietary fibers are long-chain carbohydrates (polysaccharides) that are indigestible by the human digestive tract. ...


Tea bricks as currency

A brick of Russian Tea Money of Czar Nicholas II, 1891
A brick of Russian Tea Money of Czar Nicholas II, 1891

Due to the high value of tea in many parts of Asia, tea bricks were used as a form of currency throughout China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Central Asia. This is quite similar to use of Salt bricks as currency in parts of Africa. Tea bricks were in fact the preferred form of currency over metallic coins for the nomads of Mongolia and Siberia. The tea could not only be used as money and eaten as food in times of hunger but also brewed as allegedly beneficial medicine for treating coughs and colds. Up until World War II, tea bricks were still used as a form of edible currency in Siberia. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 429 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (3936 × 5504 pixel, file size: 2. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 429 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (3936 × 5504 pixel, file size: 2. ... Tibet (see Name section below for other spellings) is a plateau region in Central Asia and the indigenous home to the Tibetan people. ... Map of Central Asia showing three sets of possible boundaries for the region Central Asia located as a region of the world Central Asia is a vast landlocked region of Asia. ... Kazakh nomads in the steppes of the Russian Empire, ca. ... “Siberian” redirects here. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... “Siberian” redirects here. ...


Tea bricks for Tibet were mainly produced in the area of Ya'an (formerly Yachou-fu) in Sichuan province. The bricks were produced in five different qualities and valued accordingly. The kind of brick which was most commonly used as currency in the late 19th and early 20th century was that of the third quality which the Tibetans called "brgyad pa" ("eighth"), because at one time it was worth eight Tibetan tangkas (standard silver coin of Tibet which weighs about 5.4 grams)in Lhasa. Bricks of this standard were also exported by Tibet to Bhutan and Ladakh. Yaan (雅安) is a prefecture-level city with more than 100,000 inhabitants in the western part of Sichuan province of the Peoples Republic of China. ... The tangka was a currency of Tibet until 1941. ... Lhasa (Tibetan: ལྷ་ས་; Wylie: lha sa; Lhasa dialect IPA: [; Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ), sometimes spelled Llasa, is the traditional capital of Tibet and the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the Peoples Republic of China. ...


Health effects

Brick tea often contains very high levels of fluorine compounds, due to the fact that it is generally made from old tea leaves and stems, which accumulate fluorine. This has led to fluorosis (a form of fluoride poisoning that affects the bones and teeth) in areas of high brick tea consumption, such as Tibet.[1][2] General Name, Symbol, Number fluorine, F, 9 Chemical series halogens Group, Period, Block 17, 2, p Appearance Yellowish brown gas Atomic mass 18. ... The word Fluorosis can refer to: Skeletal fluorosis Dental fluorosis This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


References

  • Wolfgang Bertsch, 2006 The Use of Tea Bricks as Currency among the Tibetans (- Der Gebrauch von Teeziegeln als Zahlungsmittel bei den Tibetern" Der Primitivgeldsammler), Europäische Vereinigung zum Erforschen, Sammeln und Bewahren von ursprünglichen und außergewöhnlichen Geldformen (European Association for the Research, Collection and Preservation of Original and Curious Money), No. 75
  • Ken Bressett "Tea Money of China" International Primitive Money Society Newsletter Number 44, August 2001
  • "History of Tea: China" [3]
  • National Palace Museum Exhibition Brochure "Empty Vessels, Replenished Minds: the Culture, Practice and Art of Tea" Taiwan 2002 [4]
  • Wang, Ling. (2003) Chinese tea culture, Pelanduk Publications, ISBN 9679787788
  • Cao J., Zhao Y., Liu J.W., (1998), "Safety evaluation and fluorine concentration of Pu'er brick tea and Bianxiao brick tea" Food Chem Toxicol 36(12):1061-1063
  • Cao J., Zhao Y., Liu J., (1997), "Brick tea consumption as the cause of dental fluorosis among children from Mongol, Kazak and Yugu populations in China" Food Chem Toxicol 35(8):827-833

Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... Also see: 2002 (number). ...

External links

  • http://www.charm.ru/coins/misc/teamoney.shtml - Tea Money of China. Ken Bressett.

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