LUXURY FERMENTATION: YOUR PERFECT CUP OF TEA?

Premium ingredients make products more expensive. So far, so good! But does panda excrement count as an exclusive ingredient? An Yanshi, at least, thinks it does. The businessman and calligrapher from the southwest-Chinese province of Sichuan is convinced that panda excretions are elevating the quality – and hence the price – of his tea. Introducing a new variety of tea into the market is Yanshi’s goal. However, his tea is not produced in the traditional manner but is instead made with the help of panda excrement.

But please bear with us for a moment, before you leave this site in disgust: Of course, the panda excrement is not directly mixed into the tea, they are merely a fertilizer for the tea plants. This “special fertilizer” is supposed to enhance the growth and quality of the plants. Panda bears feed exclusively on bamboo, which – similar to green tea – contains substances that are reported to prevent cancer. Apparently, the clever Chinese tinkerer has even patented his unusual idea.

A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO TEA FOR THE REAL ENTHUSIAST

A crucial quality indicator for tea is its tea leaf grading which is encoded in a letter and number combination, for example FTGFOP1S, and, among other factors, reveals how finely cut the tea is. In descending order, the expert distinguishes the production categories “whole leaf”, “broken”, “fannings”, and “dust”. After the tealeaves have been dried, they are sifted and packed by size. Among the tealeaves of the three higher categories, the quality differences are minimal. Dust tea, however, is certainly of a lower quality and inferior in taste. It can often be found in combination with fannings in tea bags.

Physically speaking, the principle is simple: The smaller the tea leaf, the stronger the result. This is because the smaller leaf gradings present a bigger surface in total to the hot water and therefore release their caffeine quicker. If you are in the mood for a calming tea experience, make your brew with teas of the higher grading categories, otherwise you may end up lying awake at night. In case this is just what you are after because you… for example… are expecting a visit from a ravishing Excellent Escorts lady, then choose small-leafed tea and make the night yours.

As with alcoholic beverages, there are certain rarities among the different kinds of tea. The equivalent of champagne would be the very rare white tea. In this category Silver Needle (Yin Zhen in Chinese) is the star. This type of white tea is only harvested on two days each year and only the leaf bud and the youngest leaf of a shrub are picked. Accordingly, one kilogram sells between 150 and 300 euro.

“Tea enlightens the mind, sharpens the senses, it imparts lightness and energy, and drives away boredom and worries.”

Chinese proverb

Back to the panda tea. It is still to be seen if the brew will be able to enthuse tea lovers around the world. The initial harvest is still to come, the price, however, is already set: One pound of the first-ever yield will cost 219,000 Yuan (around 25,000 euro). The tea grower has an explanation for this unusual (and of course exceptionally high) price. In China, the number 9 symbolises long life, while 21 represents the 21st century. In case this price would strain your budget, or you simply don’t want to spend that much on tea, just wait for the second harvest. One pound of it is supposed to cost 2,300 euro – a bargain.

Until then we will keep the words of the English author and playwright John Galsworthy in mind:

“To serve tea shows exquisite taste, because tea makes you sociable and polite, it is stimulating and modest.”