Tea Brick

I got a Tea Brick for a Holiday present.

Over a pound of compressed tea- they were once used as currency. Isn’t that special, blah blah, cultural moment, blah.

Cut to the chase- in this case there seems to be a bit of confusion over whether it is meant to be consumed as tea or not.

Cost Plus gives you advice on how to preserve it, apparently as a decoration (“spray it with lacquer”). Very odd.

Online vendors use a variety of vague advertising language, that runs the range:

  • “Not for consumption.”
  • “This sculpted tea brick makes a unique gift and interesting conversation piece”
  • “Actual tea is pressed tightly to form this ornate item which was used by the ancient Chinese as currency. This brick makes an interesting decorative item for your home or is perfect for an exotic and unique gift!”
  • [I found a description of how to make tea with this thing- see below]

Note this is for the identical item! Same stamp and everything. Ambiguous.

I’m eating it anyway.

On one of the sites actually selling the Tea Brick as food:

Chinese keemun black tea, grown in anwhwei- a smooth, rich, complex cup of tea

In Mongolia, tea bricks are still the primary way tea is purchased. Tea is prepared by first shaving off a bit of the tea brick then stewing it with yak butterfat. The tea leaves are eventually strained off mixed with milk, butter roasted grains. Tibetans steep the tea shavings in water overnight. The following day, they churn the tea with milk, yak butter salt, into a thick brew.

Tea bricks are still produced in China using ancient methods. In some families, tea bricks have been handed down & kept in the family over generations. They are used sparingly for special occasions.

Now I just need some yak butter.

  • Butter Tea (“Po Cha”) approximation recipe using cow butter

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