Green Tea Brick

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April/May production green tea from Mt. Lushan region of Hubei Province. The quality is retained for several years due to the compression of the tea brick.

Grate or cut off a teaspoons worth of tea per 2 cups of tea.

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  • Country of Origin: China
    Region: Hubei Province
    Shipping Port: Shanghai
    Altitude: 2000' 4000' ft. above sea level
    Manufacture Type: Compressed tea
    Cup Characteristics: Mild green tea character. Lightly vegetative with a smooth finish
    Infusion: Tending dull
    Luxury Ingredients: Luxury formed green tea

    These days a shipment of tea from a warehouse in Shanghai can reach Tibet's capital of Lhasa in a matter of days. Thanks to the recently constructed railway to the rooftop of the world, a tea merchant can now accompany his shipment on the long journey in heated and pressurized comfort. Pressurized of course because the train hurdles along at elevations as high 16,640 feet above sea level. (You read that correctly.) Now, people in Tibet have been drinking tea for many, many centuries - stories of hot yak butter tea are legendary. But how did the tea get there prior to the construction of the great iron road in the sky? If you answered by truck, very clever, but we're talking even further back. If you answered, by pony, again very clever but many parts of the journey weren't accessible by pony. The correct answer is that tea, pressed into the form of bricks for ease of transport, was hauled up to the mountain kingdom on foot. And just how impressive a feat was that? An examination of the new rail line will help put it in perspective.

    For its entire length, the new railroad sits at over 13,100 feet high. The highest station, in the town of Nagqu, is situated at 14,764 feet. Almost half the route travels across permafrost. As mentioned, the cabins of the train are pressurized to compensate for the lack of oxygen at these altitudes. The threat of altitude sickness is so real that at all times, doctors are present on board to treat passengers who succumb. Talk about goin' up the rails on a crazy train. Now, imagine yourself carrying 300 lbs worth of tea bricks on your back and covering approximately 6 miles per day walking along the tracks.

    Without exaggeration, that is how tea bricks once made their way to Tibet. The only saving grace was that merchants packed the tea into large packs with a built in tri-pod that allowed them to rest the towering loads up against a wall that, and the magnificent views. The journey took weeks, sometimes months depending on weather. You can see why for centuries tea bricks were used as currency - with each step their value literally rose with the altitude. Subsequently, wasting tea was considered something of a sacrilege in ancient Tibet. (We'd like to think wasting tea still is anywhere!)

    Beyond their historical method of transport, green tea bricks were something of a novelty when they first appeared. Traditionally, tea bricks were made using fermented, or black, tea. And while many people elect to display them as a novelty art piece, they also make a wonderful cup of tea. Either way, we offer them in honor of the many men who crossed mountains in their name. Hint: Tea bricks make an excellent sales piece. Customers can't help but ask about them!

  • Hot brewing method: Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 teaspoon of crumbled tea for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea). Even though milk and a dash of sugar help enhance the flavor character on this tea, it is perfectly acceptable to consume this tea 'straight-up'.

    Generally not used to make iced tea.

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