individually mini cakes paper-wrapped Pu-erh Tuochas. This tea from China’s Yunnan province is reminiscent of a Rose Congou but with the health benefits of pu-erh. Give it a long steep with fully boiling water. The leaves are dried, aged and compressed into tea mini cakes shaped like a bird’s nest. The peoples of the Yunnan-Tibet border have drunk pu-erh since the Tang dynasty, according to a Song dynasty scientific reference. The troops of Kublai Khan, “pacifying” the southwest after the 13th century Mongol conquest, are said to have introduced pu-erh to the rest of China for its medicinal value. Bricks of pu-erh tea constituted the first medium of monetary exchange used by nomads beyond the Great Wall of China, recorded in Chinese records as early as A.D. 476. The aroma and flavor are earthy, and pu-erh is often blended with other teas. It is said to help lower blood cholestrol levels and increase metabolism. These are from China’s Yunnan province comes this grease-cutting, coffee-kicker tea. It is aged, ripe and high octane, featuring a rich earthy taste with briny overtones. Each tea “button” is individually paper-wrapped. There are many health benefits attributed to this tea; it lowers cholestrol and tricglycerides, cleanses the blood, is great for hangovers and indigestion, and also a treatment for obesity. Give it a long steep with full boiling water. It’s the perfect commuter tea. Simply place the tea unit in a glass thermos and fill with boiling water (let it steep overnight for “espresso” strength).