Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Haichao Pu-erh Tea Blocks

I'm sure by now that you can guess where I picked this up. I'll get straight to it.

Haichao pu-erh tea is very good. I had never heard of pu-erh tea before, but it is delicious. It has a very earthy, natural flavor. It's very mild, but still has a very distinct flavor. It's a great tea, and is a naive change of pace from the black and green-based teas to which I have become accustomed lately. It's a totally different taste.

The most interesting part, however, is how you steep it. The tea comes in blocks rather than bags. Now, I'd never heard of a tea block before until I found this tea, but I'll explain it. The block, packaged as so in the picture above, is basically just a densely compacted block of tea leaves.

To steep the tea, you simply heat some water, pour half of the hot water over the block, wait for the leaves to loosen and separate a bit, and then pour the rest of the water over the block to fully loosen the tea. I'm sure that you're supposed to strain it before serving, but I've found that I actually like leaving the leaves in the bottom. They add to the flavor a bit, and make the last few sips very aromatic as the fumes from the wet leaves waft out of your cup over the remaining liquid. Also, as with all loose teas, the flavor is gentler and more natural throughout the drink, as the leaves have room to move around and breath a bit during steeping; something that is harder to achieve with a typical bagged tea.

So not only is it an excellent tea, it also has a novel method of preparation. I'm sure that there are plenty of other teas out there like this and that I'm just ignorant of them, but this was my first experience with tea blocks, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it so far. I'm sure to be enjoying it for some time to come, too, because there's enough blocks in this box to last for the next three generations. For $2.50, that's an incredible value.

Verdict: Highly recommended