When I was visiting Portland I was staying with my cousin and her husband, and they are generally not big tea drinkers. One of the teas they have, however, is a curiosity — it basically looks like little bits of tea, each about 2mm x 2mm x 2mm in size. So they’re pretty small. Apparently, they use it to make chai, and an Indian co-worker of my cousin-in-law said that it’s a good brand for that. The only problem is that I can’t figure out at all what kind of tea it is. Apparently, when you try to crush it when it’s wet, it just sort of get mushed up and crumbles. My guess is that this is basically compressed fanning — so basically, teabag material that is compressed into little bits instead of stuck in a bag. I think this means flavours get released very fast and will yield a slightly bland and mellow brew.
And in a completely different context, I had it today. My girlfriend just returned from a trip to Xinjiang, and today we visited one of her friends, whose husband is half Egyptian. My girlfriend brought a bag of tea for them from Xinjiang, which is made from Yarkand and originally (according to packaging) from Yunnan.
The taste of the tea is very odd — it’s got hints of a reasonable black tea, but with notes of spice and other frangrance in it. It smells slightly sweet — maybe a hint of rose? Cardamom? I wasn’t sure. Then I peeked in the pot — and realized that it’s the same pressed fanning tea that I saw only two days ago! It was quite interesting to actually taste it. The tea was weak, even when brewed for a long time. There was obviously no qi, and it was just smooth — no astringency or acidity.
Apparently, this tea is also good for making their local milk tea. I guess it’s good for that sort of thing — flavoured, milk diluted tea. Yarkand stuff is supposed to be the best, for whatever reason. I guess to each his own. I’d rather drink my big leaf puerh, hehehe