How to Break a Puerh Tea Brick

  • Last edited: October 5, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Puerh tea is getting more popular and more people want to try it themselves. Puerh tea is usually compressed into a variety of shapes and one of those shapes is a brick. You can’t really put a whole brick in a teapot so you need to break the puerh tea brick into smaller pieces. This article offers a complete overview of how to break a puerh tea brick.

Puerh tea

Puerh tea is one of the six types of tea and there are two subcategories of puerh tea: sheng puerh and shu puerh. Both subcategories are characterized by fermentation, but the difference lies in when this fermentation process occurs.

Sheng puerh (or raw puerh) is not fermented during production as it’s usually stored and aged for the future. After production, sheng puerh is similar to green tea because there is no fermentation yet. Aging and storing sheng puerh is the reason it ferments because natural fermentation occurs slowly over time.

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The fermentation process of sheng puerh happens naturally and is affected by several factors such as humidity, temperature, and compression of the tea leaves, … Different levels of humidity can greatly change the character of a tea.

Shu puerh (or ripe/cooked puerh) is different from sheng puerh as it is artificially fermented during production. The tea leaves are piled to initiate the fermentation process. This is done in a hot and humid environment and the final result is (fully-/partially-) fermented tea leaves.

Compression of puerh tea

In the past, puerh tea was compressed into a variety of shapes because it was easier to work with. It was easier to transport and it was compressed into a standard shape/size so it was convenient to trade and or sell.

Traditionally, puerh tea was compressed into a round cake shape. There are two main types of the round cake shape: a round tea cake with a hollow in the center of the back and a discuss tea cake.

In addition to a round cake shape, there are also tea bricks, squares, mushroom shapes, golden melon tea, ingot shapes, and bowl shapes. The latter is also called a tuo cha.

Pu-erh Tea brick Tea Adventures
A puerh tea brick
What is Gushu Pu-erh Tea Adventures
A round puerh tea cake

They all have one thing in common: you need to break off tea leaves before you can brew them (unless it’s a very small tea cake). Breaking tea cakes for brewing or putting them into a jar is all done in the same way, but there are some minor differences between the different shapes.

A very common shape of compressed puerh tea is a brick. This shape is popular both for sheng and shu puerh tea and it’s easy to store somewhere when you don’t have that much space.

Breaking a puerh tea brick

Before knowing how to break a puerh tea brick, it’s important why and when it’s useful to break tea cakes. It’s not always the best option and it depends on how quickly/slowly you want to drink the tea.

When not to break a puerh tea brick

If you bought a tea brick and you want to store it for the future, it’s better to leave the brick as it is. Puerh tea ages better as a full cake or brick.

When to break a puerh tea brick

If you bought a tea brick and you want to drink it regularly, it’s better to break it into smaller pieces. Even when you’re planning on drinking it in the first few years, it’s better to break the tea brick into smaller chunks.

There are several reasons why you might want to break a puerh tea brick. It’s easier to just take some leaves whenever you want to drink tea instead of always needing a puerh knife to break off what you need.

Breaking a brick also allows for more airflow, which is beneficial for the leaves. The leaves in the middle of a tea brick don’t have any airflow so putting them in a jar after breaking them up is a good way to air out the leaves.

This allows for more equal fermentation and results in a more balanced cup of tea.

How to break a puerh tea brick

Once you know when you should break a puerh tea brick, it’s time to actually do it. Keep in mind that this might take a while and it’s important to take your time. If you rush this, you might break more leaves than necessary, which might greatly affect the tea you brew.

It’s best to keep as much of the leaves intact. More broken leaves usually results in worse tea. Whole tea leaves usually brew a much better cup of tea than small bits and pieces of broken leaves.

In order to successfully break a puerh tea brick, you need the following items:

  • Puerh tea knife
  • Something to put your tea on like a puerh tray
  • A tea brick
  • A tea jar to store the tea after breaking it

Take a look at the steps below to see how to break a puerh tea brick. Watch out with the puerh knife because you can hurt yourself! Never point the knife at your body or hands.

How to Break a Puerh Tea Brick Tea Adventures
A brick is usually more condensed and more difficult to pick apart. Pick a (long) side and look for an opening where you can insert the tea knife.
How to Break a Puerh Tea Brick Tea Adventures
Put the tea knife in the opening and push it in as far as you can.
How to Break a Puerh Tea Brick Tea Adventures
You should try to break the tea brick in half without damaging the leaves too much.
You’re making the brick thinner and getting some smaller chunks.
How to Break a Puerh Tea Brick Tea Adventures
If you finish one side, try the other (long) side.
How to Break a Puerh Tea Brick Tea Adventures
Once you’re finished, you can further break the small chunks.

Don’t forget to store it in a jar or something similar and you’re good to go!

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