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Shapes of Pu-erh Tea

Aside from vintage year, pu-erh tea can be classified in a variety of ways: by shape, processing method, region, cultivation, grade, and season.

Pu-erh is compressed into a variety of shapes. Other lesser seen forms include, stacked "melon pagodas", pillars, calabashes, yuanbao, and small bricks (2–5 cm in width). Pu-erh is also compressed into the hollow centers of bamboo stems or packed and bound into a ball inside the peel of various citrus.

Image Common name Description
Pu-erh Tea Cake Bing, Beeng, Cake, or Disc

Chinese

饼茶

餅茶

Bǐngchá

A round, flat, disc or hockey puck-shaped tea. Size ranges from as small as 100g to as large as 5 kg or more, with 357g, 400g, and 500g being the most common. Depending on the pressing method, the edge of the disk can be rounded or perpendicular.
Also commonly known as Qīzí bǐngchá (七子餅茶, literally "Seven units cake tea") because seven of the bing are packaged together at a time for sale or transport.

Pu-erh Tuo Cha Tuo Cha, Bowl, or Nest

沱茶

沱茶

Tuóchá

A convex knob-shaped tea with size ranging from 3g to 3 kg or more, with 100g, 250g, 500g being the most common. The name for "tuocha" is believed to have originated from the round, top-like shape of the pressed tea or from the old tea shipping and trading route of the Tuojiang River.

In ancient times, tuocha cakes may have had holes punched through the center so that they could be tied together on a rope for easy transport.

Pu-erh Tea Brick Brick

砖茶

磚茶

Zhuānchá

A thick rectangular block of tea, usually in 100g, 250g, 500g, and 1000g sizes.

Zhuancha bricks are the traditional shape that was used for ease of transport along the Ancient tea route by horse caravans.

Square Pu-erh Square

方茶

方茶

Fāngchá

A flat square of tea, usually in 100g or 200g sizes. They often contain words that are pressed into the square.

clip_image005 Mushroom

紧茶

緊茶

Jǐnchá

Literally meaning "tight tea," the tea is shaped much like túocha, but with a stem rather than a convex hollow. This makes them quite similar in form to a mushroom. Pu-erh tea of this shape is generally produced for Tibetan consumption, and is usually 250g or 300g.

Gold melon pu-erh Melon, or Gold melon

金瓜

金瓜

Jīnguā

A shape similar to tuóchá, but larger in size with a much thicker body that is decorated with pumpkin-like "stripes". This shape was created for the famous "Tribute tea" (貢茶) that was made expressly for the Qing Dynasty Emperorsfrom the best tea leaves of Yiwu Mountain. Larger specimens of this shape are sometimes called "Human-head tea" (人頭茶) due in part to its size and shape, as well as the fact that in the past it was often presented in court in a similar manner to severed heads of enemies or criminals.

loose leaf pu-erh tea Loose Leaf

散茶

散茶

San Cha

Maocha that is aged uncompressed and sold at its maturity as aged loose-leaf raw pu-erh.

Ju Pu Packed Tangerine Peel. Ju Pu

橘普

橘普

Ju Pu

Pu-erh leaves stuffed into a whole Tangerine Peel. The leaves are packed into the fruit wet, and then dried under the sunlight.

After that, the packed tangerine teas are then stored in a cool dry location, allowing the tea to ferment and dry within the tangerine peel.

While drying the pu-erh tea absorb the flavor of tangerine.

Tong Cha Tong Cha. Packed in Bamboo Tube.

筒茶

筒茶

Tong Cha

 

Raw tea leaves have been forced down in the the open end of the aromatic bamboo section, then bamboo sections are barbecued in a wood fire. As the bamboo dries in the fire the special aroma intermingles with the Pu-erh inside.

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