A friend challenged me to do a 30 days of Teas and Teapots challenge. So, for the next 30 days, I will be posting the tea that I am drinking as well as the teapot I am using.Feel free to play along and post the tea you are drinking and/or the teapot you are using. Just add your link in the comments or join in on the blog’s Facebook page Simply Angela. On Twitter, use the hashtag #SimplyAngelaTeaChallenge
Teapot/Tea Challenge Day 8 Tea: Ancient Pu-erh Tuo Cha Tea and Primula Glass Teapot
Tuo Cha, meaning ‘bowl tea’, is a compressed Pu-erh tea from China’s Yunnan Province. It’s a centuries-old artisan tea and is often pressed into bricks, cakes, and bowls.
I love this tea. It’s one of my favorites. Although I don’t use it as an everyday tea because of the price—I think it was like $40 for 10 bowls.
It has a mild malty taste that reminds me of a Tippy Yunnan. It’s very smooth and easy to drink. I was hesitant to try this tea because the dry tea has a smell that I can only liken to fish food. Thankfully, the smell and taste of the wet tea is nothing like the smell of the dry tea.
Because this is a pressed tea—meaning the leaves have been pressed into a shape, then dried—you’ll need to break the tea before using it. If you add the entire bowl to the teapot, the tea will taste like mud. FYI: When you buy this tea, most sellers will try to push you into buying an overpriced Pu-erh knife (the cheapest I’ve found was $29). Tell them to keep the knife. All you need to break the tea with is a clean flat surface—I used the end of a wooden-handled butter knife. I’ve also used the bottom of a spice jar.
Once you’ve broken the tea into dime-sized pieces, add them to a teapot with a wide bottom. You’ll want room for the tea to expand. Allow to steep for 4 minutes before serving.
How to store this tea once broken:
This tea will come wrapped in paper, usually rice or mulberry paper. Pick up the corners of the paper and twist together so that the tea is in a bundle. If you do not have a glass or metal tea tin to store the bundle in, just wrap the bundle in a small piece of cling wrap then place in a baggie.
The teapot I’m using is a glass teapot from Primula. I actually purchased this teapot the same day I purchased the tea because the teardrop shape of the teapot is perfect for brewing Pu-erh and Yunnan Teas.
The bottom is wide enough that it allows the tea to expand and the spout pours smoothly—not so much as a dribble ran down the spout. It also keeps the tea hot without having to cover it with a cozy. A huge plus for me was the handle. There are actually spacers between the handle and the belly of the teapot so the handle doesn’t heat up.
Teacup and Saucer:
I found this little lovely at an estate sale. It came as a three-piece set—cup, saucer, and bread and butter plate (also called a dessert plate). And I picked it up for a song. I think I only paid $6 for the set. You don’t often find a Royal Mail pattern in brown, the ones I’ve seen have been in black of olive green. Often times you only find the cup or the saucer, so it was rare to find three pieces in the same color.
Fun Tea Fact: This tea—Pu-erh—was traded by mule caravan across the Ancient Tea & Horse Routes to Tibet and Mongolia, where it became integral to local food cultures as an after-meal digestive and wellness tea. It was also used as a form of currency to trade for horses and salt.