Monday, August 31, 2015

Bamboo Herbal Tea - Zhu Ke Cha

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.  


Unknown said...

Hi Wilson, I'd like drinking shupu, but it seems to be too "hot" for my body. But drinking shengpu to me is like eating raw green bananas, or worse, raw plantain.

Singapore/Malaysia is so hot & humid; how can you drink so much shupu? Can you write something about the puerh drinking habits of Singaporean/Malaysian (Chinese) in general? What kind of pu do they drink? Thanks.

Unknown said...

Hi Wilson, The Singaporean/Malaysian Chinese community has one of the most continuously authentic tea drinking traditions in the world, perhaps more authentic than Hong Kong & Taiwan especially when it comes to Puerh tea.

Can you please write about the Southeast Asian Chinese tea drinking habits/tradition? Perhaps with emphasis on puerh tea.

Maybe instead of going to places like HK, GD, & JP, you can hang out with some old tea drinking people in Singapore/Malaysia and teach us about how they drink tea.

Thanks so much.

wilson said...

Thank you Kwokyam for your suggestions. May I know exactly what raw or cooked pu erh you are drinking, and the brewing parameters, like size of teapot , amount of leaves used and infusion times. Yes, there are teas that will caused a sweaty sensation and there are tea drinkers that actually enjoy such tea and will look to buy such teas.
The Chinese tea community is much bigger in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. There is more to see, buy and drink. And yes, I am looking at tea drinking habits and tradition and I will be sharing my findings with you soon.
I would like to feature you in a blog post. We can share our experiences on tea and we can have a tea session where we will try tea from our collection. It will be fun. Let me know if you are interested. Thank you

Unknown said...

Hi Wilson, This post on Zhu Ke Cha is very interesting. I like the shupu that you've been writing about. For me puerh just needs enough hot water.

A Qing scholar said something like "some people and places have tea leaves, but they don't have tea." Southeast Asia has tea. For a long time puerh and Yixing teapots have been ordered by Southeast Asian Chinese communities.

It would be excellent posting for you to teach us about the tea habits and traditions of Southeast Asian Chinese communities. Besides Malaysia, I heard that Thailand has a big Chinese community.

Thanks so much.