Zhu Ke Cha - literally translated as bamboo wrapped tea is actually a black tea compressed to small balls and wrapped with the outer cover of a bamboo stem. One 'tube' get you five balls of this tea, and one of these balls weighing about 3.5g is sufficient to brew up a litre of strong herbal tea.
Zhu Ke tea comes from Guangdong, China and it had been around for many years. A very inexpensive tea, these tubes are commonly sold in Chinese medicinal shops, tea shops and even Chinese grocery shops. Though this tea is a black tea, many Chinese regarded this tea as a herbal tea due to its medicinal aroma. Many Chinese today brew this tea to drink when one feels 'heaty' or is down with a flu. I was told that during the major bird-flu crises that affect South East Asia and Hong Kong from Nov 2002 to July 2003, there was a high demand for Zhu Ke tea that it became a hard-to-find item during that period.
You will have noticed, from the above pix, that this tea is hand wrapped and looked really 'artisanal'. The compression of the tea balls are not high, and you can break up the ball without much effort.
I used a porcelain teapot to brew this tea. Porcelain teapots are good to brew all types of tea as a good detergent washing of this teapot would remove all the aroma and residue, leaving the teapot ready for brewing another tea. I presently reserved my clay teapots for pu erh and oolongs.
I could make 3 good teapots of zhu ke tea from one ball. I estimated that I got about 1 litre of tea from this tea session. This tea has strong aromas of wood. I thought there was a pinewood scent in the tea as well. Tea absorbs scents easily and this zhu ke cha had 'absorbed' the scent of the bamboo husk wrapper. The combination of black tea together with the scent of woody bamboo makes for a nice 'herbal' drink. I particularly like to drink this tea hot than letting it cool down to room temperature.