For decades tea lovers have lived with it – a feeling that something is missing, a hole in their hearts. Every sip contains just a touch of emptiness, every cup a sense of longing. All of my readers immediately know what I am referring to, of course: poo envy.
Tea drinkers have had to endure a cup of plain ol’, poo-free tea, while coffee drinkers are prancing around drinking Kopi Luwak, a coffee made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet, then …well, “passed through” its digestive tract (if you know what I’m saying). Not only that, but these coffee drinkers were lucky enough to be paying out the you-know-what for the privilege to drink the poo-laced delicacy.
But have no fear, my brave tea drinkers, Chinese entrepreneur An Yanshi has some good news for you: you’ll be getting your poo soon enough! He is convinced he has found the key ingredient to produce the world’s most expensive tea – panda poo. And he’s willing to put his poo where is mouth is – he purchased 11 tons of excrement from a panda breeding center to use as fertilizer in his tea plantation in southwestern China.
And I hate to admit it, but there is a speck of good science there – pandas only absorb about 30% of the nutrients in the bamboo that they consume, excreting the remaining 70 percent. This leads to soil which is quite rich, perfect for growing hardy tea plants.
That being said, with a pricetag of almost 220,000 yuan ($35,000) for just 500 grams (a little over a pound) – making it one of the most expensive teas in the world – the “Panda Tea” idea (note that they’ve left an important word out of the title!) does seem to be a bit of a stinker.
I guess I’ll have to stick with my poo-free tea until they find a way to raise the economies of scale to make it a bit more tangible to the everyday tea drinker.
Oh, well… until that day arrives I’ll just have to brew up a cup of Pu Erh and just have to imagine that it has real poo in it.
(Or I could go down to my local supermarket and buy a box of the bottom-of-the-barrel crap they pass off as real tea!)