Continuing our series on Puerh – the many and varied shapes and forms of puerh tea.There are a total of six different compressed puerh tea shapes.
1 Round – usually 357g disk with hollow on underside and packed into a stack of seven cakes which are wrapped in bamboo leaves. When the loose leaves are steamed and transferred into a linen bag, the end of the bag is twisted to ensure that no leaves fall out of the bag during compression. This twisted end presses the leaves during compression and creates the hollow. Production is controlled by hand. (Shown below)
2 Disk – this is similar to the round shape but does not have the hollow. It is compressed in an enclosed metal mould through which steam is passed, making a very compressed cake with a sharp edge. Production is fast.
3 Bowl – this is a round ball with a deep hollow in weights of 100g, 150g, 250g, 500g and 1kg or in 3g or 5g mini bowls. This hollow ensure that water absorbed during steaming is able to evaporate without being trapped in the centre of the bowl. (Shown above)
4 Melon/pumpkin shape – pumpkin shaped ball which symbolises good fortune and wealth.
5 Brick – a thick, rectangular block of tea, used for cooked and raw puerh, usually 250g but occasionally 500g or 1000g. These are very space efficient.
6 Mushroom / heart – traditionally 238g and packed into a stack of seven wrapped in bamboo. The design ensures that no moisture is trapped in the centre of the compressed tea. (Shown above)
Finally – Loose leaf – usually only for cooked puerh. In this case the tea is not compressed. Raw puerh should be compressed before the leaves are five years old, otherwise flavour will be lost. (Shown above)
Next in the Puerh Tea Series – Puerh Vintages [LINK]