There are “tea tools” that one can use to help make an easier and comfortable brew. Pix 1 shows a common tea tool set which you see at tea sampling tables in a teashop. These tea tools can be made from wood, bamboo, plastic or even metal. The tweezer is commonly used to handle the teacups during the tea rinsing exercise. The tea leaf scoop need no explanation. Lastly, the sharp pointed needle tool is to (poke yourself for buying too much tea) help clear any tea leaves that may be stuck on the filter inside the teapot. I usually use this tool only when I am rinsing the teapot after use. This set comes with a funnel that you can place over the lid of the teapot when you pour the tea leaves into the pot with your scoop. Such tea tools set are usually inexpensive ($5) but can be pricey as well ($200+).
The last pix are tools to help you break or pry open a pu erh tea cakes. Pu erh cakes, bricks or tuos are normally compressed very tightly and using your bare hands to break the cake can be quite hazardous. You can use a regular metal letter opener or in my case a swiss army knife. I insert the knife into the cake, at the 12, 2,4,6,8,10 o’clock positions. I could then pry open the tea cake lengthwise and I end up with 2 pieces. It can now be broken by hand to smaller pieces to be stored in your tea box/caddy. It is important that you perform all these steps, I had mentioned, slowly. This would reduce the amount of tea dust resulting from opening the cake. I try not to keep and brew the tea dust as they tend to clog up the filter in the teapot and affects the pour-out of the tea.
There is also a tea pick in the last pix. Most teashops and tea drinkers commonly use this pick to pry open their teacakes. Knife or pick…..it a personal preference.
I would make a brew of the tea after breaking up the pu erh cake. I would, however, make subsequent brews a week later so as to ‘awake the tea leaves’ (see previous blog for my explanation).