Compressed fruit bar

Continued from Compressed Teas and Tisanes Beyond Pu’er – Part 2

Compressed Tisanes

A final frontier not everyone even wants to venture into or would have heard of.  Again I tried two completely different tisane bars from Moychay (they sent me quite a few samples to review last year, and I’ve even started contributing some review-article content to their website).

The first was a compressed fruit that seemed to contain a bit of spice: Really far from standard tea in character, but pleasant. The pressed version of dried fruits was definitely different. The other was a pressed version of willow herb, which also goes by fireweed and is also called Ivan chay.  This herb is really unique for being able to oxidize in a way similar to tea (Camellia Sinensis), although the couple of versions I’ve tried wouldn’t get mistaken for tea.  A version I didn’t try is made of rose petals and cherry leaves.  

Compressed willow herb bar

If the way it works out were similar to “real tea” versions, pressing the herbs would only change the loose material character a little.  They’re not the same as Camellia Sinensis but the wider range of materials to input enables a different range of potential.  Any herb, flower, or fruit blend could be combined and pressed that way, in theory.  Or mixes of teas and other ingredients, which is a popular theme in Western markets now.  One potential downside is that there’s no current market demand for such a thing (pressed tisanes and blends), since it seems to have just started existing, but in a different sense that only increases the potential. 

I think the compressed tisane theme was more appealing to me because trying the one local shop’s white tea bar and Moychay Da Hong Pao (roasted oolong) were such positive experiences.  Both of those could be brewed Gongfu style, prepared in a gaiwan using lots of short infusions, or they worked well made Western style; and probably just as well prepared “grandpa style.”  (Side note: That’s a reference from a well-known tea blogger to a very common Chinese brewing approach: Adding tea into a tea bottle with hot water and drinking it together unstrained, re-adding water after finishing each round.)  I most often use it on road trips and wrote a post about trying out results on different tea types a while back.

The fruit tea version would even work well simmered with black tea–perhaps with a bit more spice added–to make a fruit-oriented version of masala chai.  Or these could be added to a thermos and left to brew that way, over any length of time.  That would seem to involve committing a thermos to the practice since cleaning after something that aromatic might be problematic: Maybe even if the liner was made of glass or steel.  Tisanes have the potential to be even more flexible than teas to brew (with the exception of tea types that aren’t astringent and work well at any infusion strength, like shu pu’er or shou mei).

Really there are too many types of tea to get to among standard types as it is, but all of these make for interesting tangents and additional range to explore.

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