This is a brick that, I think, I bought in Taiwan while I was there doing work. I seem to remember picking it up along with a few other things, more as a curiosity piece than anything else. Back then Chen Zhitong, the proprietor of Chenguanghe Tang, was just starting to press his own stuff, so I’m not sure if this brick was his own, or if it were one of the “someone pressed it and I named it” sort of deal. I do remember it being relatively cheap, which is why I bought one.
Unfortunately, there’s a reason the tea is cheap – it’s really, really broken up, as in the leaves are very chopped. Other than the surface, which has a layer of decent looking leaves, everything in between is pretty much chopped leaves of the smallest variety – stuff you might expect in a teabag, but in a brick form. When I used my pick to pry out a piece, it was basically effortless, and the leaves more or less crumble when you pressure the leaves.
The result is rather disappointing – nasty early brews because of the high surface area, and then weak late brews because the tea has been exhausted. What you see above is the result of the wash – just lots of tiny sediments and fannings. There wasn’t a single whole leaf in there, and most of it is too fine to even make it into big factory cakes. In other words, it was the leftovers pressed into a brick. There’s a reason why my friends generally stay away from bricks unless they know it’s a good one.