Chinese compressed tea consists of blocks of whole or ground tea leaves that are packed in moulds and pressed into bricks, cakes and bowls. Black tea is used as a base and the blocks can be stored for years. This was the most commonly produced tea in China before the Ming dynasty. It was popular with minority people in border regions, especially nomadic tribes, because it was easy to transport and store. Tea bricks are more than just a beverage. They can be used as food and currency. In Tibet, pieces of tea are shaved from the bricks and boiled overnight in water, sometimes with salt. The resulting concentrated infusion is then mixed with butter and roasted barley flour. The mixture, called po cha (butter tea), is usually served as gruel. Because of its high value, compressed tea was used as a form of edible currency in ancient China, Tibet and Mongolia. Originally from Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan, it is classified into bing cha (cake tea), tuo cha (peg-top tea) and zhuang cha (brick tea). Brick tea This compressed tea has a pattern engraved on the surface. It is heavily fermented, has a strong taste and is dark red. Tuo cha This crude green tea from Yunnan is compressed into a bowl. The tea is reddish-brown and has a sweet after-taste. Scented tea - jasmine and chrysanthemum - is made by mixing fragrant flowers with green tea, black tea or Oolong tea leaves. The flowers commonly used are jasmine, magnolia, orchid, chrysanthemum and rose, with jasmine being the most popular. Scented tea is sweet and pleasant on the palate. Jasmine tea A delicate favourite enjoyed by northern Chinese and foreigners, jasmine tea blends the fine flavour of green tea with the fragrance of jasmine. Jasmine tea is known to have been produced as early as the Sung dynasty, more than 700 years ago. Fuzhou in Fujian province and Suzhou in Jiangsu province are famous for it. Chrysanthemum tea This classic Chinese floral tea is popular in East Asia. Dried chrysanthemum flowers are steeped in a mixture of boiling water and rock sugar. The resulting infusion is transparent and light to bright yellow, and has an inviting floral aroma. Chrysanthemum is a tasty beverage and a mild medicine. It is especially effective if you are suffering from a lack of sleep or have eaten too much deep-fried food.