Unfurling the mysteries of a ‘Tea Cake’

Curtain-raiser read on ‘Real Tea Cakes’ that you will love

“The old is good.”

Hold on to that thought. We assure it will make sense when you discover the mystery we are talking about. Read on - 

Did you think of a light, fluffy pastry to relish with your tea, when we said ‘Tea Cake’? Don’t worry, we wouldn’t question you. After all, tea cakes are a rare commodity to come across in today’s times. It’s only natural, a tea cake is associated and ‘misunderstood’ as a pastry or a cake to savour as an accompaniment with your tea or any other beverage.

But it is not the ‘usual tea cake’ we want to share with you today.

If not pastry, what is a Tea Cake?
Now that you are aware, not all tea cakes are side-pastries, usually consumed alongside an English Hi-Tea and breakfast - let us dive deeper into what traditional ‘Tea Cakes’ signify!

When simply explained; Tea Cakes are compressed tea leaves that are fermented and aged to take the shape of a cake. Since a large quantity of tea leaves are used in this process, each tea cake is highly rich in aroma, flavour and health benefits, even more interesting and healthful than loose leaf teas are..

Why do tea cakes age like fine wine?

Mentioning the superiority of aged wine, “And no one after drinking old wine desires new,” said The Bible, Luke 5:39, for he says, “The old is good.”

As curious venturers, humans discovered the benefits of aging food and beverages long, long ago. In the present day, wine is one of the most renowned beverages that tastes better when aged. It was the ancient Greeks, who are believed to discover that wine as a drink, can be rested and fermented, which leads to it developing deeper, evolved flavours and taste tones. When wines are consumed young, or soon after manufacturing, they only offer primary flavours and are devoid of the deeper flavours.

But why must you understand the aging process of wine to know about tea cakes? 

Tea cakes undergo a similar fermentation process as wines do. Tea cakes undergo 7 laborious stages of fermentation before they can be consumed as a beverage or food. We will also tell you about its detailed fermentation process in a bit. But for now, let us share how it is this fermentation process that lends playful nuances of taste, aroma and flavour that is otherwise undiscovered in loose leaf teas (the next best alternative, of course).

Even after a tea drinker has purchased an authentic tea cake, it can be stored for quite a long time, sometimes years. To brew your delicious cup of tea, you only need a small pinch of the tea cake, so store it in your shelf for as long as you’d like and watch it only getting better with age!

Many tea cakes also use leaves from historic trees and gardens. A priced inclusion is the Bing Dao Raw Cake, whose leaves are plucked from a 600 year old tree plant that grows at an altitude of 2000 metres. 

What goes into tea-cake making?

Tea leaves.

Yes, that’s pretty much all! No additives, no preservatives or artificial substances. Only pure tea leaves, dried until they lose all of their natural moisture. From White tea to black, green, rose and even the rare and exquisite purple tea leaves are used to make tea cakes. Each of this, unique in its own.

Traditionally, these whole leaf teas are sometimes powdered and in many cases directly compressed in their original shape. The first step involves weighing the required amount of leaves, then placing them over a canister, atop a steamer, which helps it in better compression. Next, the leaves are inverted from the canister into a cotton bag, twisted and pressed to let it take a round shape. 

Thereon, a stone roller is used to manually mould them into desired shapes such as a mushroom, ball, chocolate slab, bricks and more. How it is to be consumed - as a food or beverage, determines how it is shaped.

It’s tea leaves and it’s cake - how can I consume it?

If you are someone who enjoys layered flavours and sweet, harmonious aromas that are as refreshing and intense as the breeze of a misty mountain, you will be glad to consume a tea-cake in more ways than one. A Chocolate Tea Cake for example, is eaten as a cake by many communities and tea-connoisseurs.

Modern-day tea cake usage ranges from baking, brewing, or even munching when on a diet. Back in the day, during the rule of emperors, it was also used as a currency owing to its high cost and value.

Benefits of a tea cake

If a loose leaf lea has so many healthy pros, you can only imagine the benefits that a tea cake has. One that has been carefully aged and protected to extract maximum benefits. When a pinch of finely aged tea cake drops into water, it unfurls flavours that have been developing over time in a sight, almost magical. Forget unhealthy diets and simply opt for a pure, antioxidant rich tea cake by TDT. It refreshes the body, flushes heat toxins, promotes healthy digestion and weight loss.

In traditional tea-drinking communities around the world, tea cakes are still consumed more than loose leaf teas are. A tea cake is one of our most treasured collections, that we are glad we found years ago, and one that we have been waiting to share with you. And this new year seems just the right occasion to unveil it. At TDT, we aim to revive this forgotten treasure and make it more accessible today, busting myths around it with the right information!

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You can also share your queries here and we will reach out to you at our earliest!

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