Dad brought some special tea, called Pu Erh Tea. It’s fermented, aged and compressed into a cake that you have to pick apart yourself.
You can see the shrink-wrapped brick in the red box (Dad says it just says Pu Erh Tea). It takes quite a bit of effort to scrape the leaves off the main brick enough so that it can actually be brewed. Since we were splitting this brick between my sister and myself, it was necessary to crack it in half.
The tea itself is a mild, red tea that has a kind of earthy taste. Not as strongly flavored as black or green tea, it’s sort of faintly fragrant. The Wiki article says that there’s mold that forms on the compressed cake as it ages that contributes to the earthy flavor. Sort of like cheese, I suppose.
Some of the fancier cakes have shapes embossed in them.
Oh well…too late. :)
“Kind of earthy taste” is putting it mildly! Myself, I’d say “Drinking this tea is like drinking watered-down mud!” And yet, it grows on you… My Samkiap dentist cousin Eng-iau treated us to some ancient Pu Erh tea that had been smuggled out of Communist China to Hong Kong—VERY EXPENSIVE—and we dutifully drank it down… which of course resulted in our cups being refilled immediately. Ah, polite Taiwanese society!
It’s supposed to be really good for you… and not too stimulating. I’m thinking maybe when I’m 50 I’ll like it more. Until then, I’ll stick with my Ti Kuan Yin (which I’m told is also an “old person’s tea”—oh well!)
The stuff we had might have been much milder…it wasn’t super expensive…20 bucks for the brick I think? I’ll have to ask Dad. The teas only tasted *slightly* of soil :-)