Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Most Expensive Tea in the World?

Photo courtesy: Kevin Dooley/CC BY 2.0

As many people know Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world; and, for very good reason. It is made from coffee beans eaten, partly digested and then excreted by the Common palm civet, a weasel-like animal. Apparently the internal digestion adds a unique flavor to the beans, removing the bitter flavor; and, the beans are then picked up by locals and sold. The most expensive coffee beans can cost up to $600 a pound, and up to $50 per cup.

A new tea is hitting the market that is reminiscent of the Kopi Luwak bean.

Pandas are cute and cuddly and make a warm, fuzzy connection with people. Now a Chinese wildlife expert is betting that people will love panda poop as well, or at least tea fertilized with the endangered animals' feces.

In fact, An Yanshi of Sichuan University believes that tea lovers with be so enthusiastic about the new product that they'll be willing to pay up to $36,000 per pound (6x the cost of Kopi Luwak) of the stuff. Oh yeah, did I mention, it's also supposed to prevent cancer.

This isn't the first surprising use for panda poop; research has shown that their feces could be the key to a major breakthrough in biofuel production. The key for each application is the panda's digestive system, which only absorbs about 30% of the bamboo the animals eat. An Yanshi says that because bamboo contains an element that prevents cancer using bamboo-filled poop as fertilizer will confer that property on the tea. This claim has not been proven by any reliable source that I am aware of.

It helps that he's making green tea, which has antioxidants that seem to prevent cancer cells from dividing. So by his logic, the super tea will double down your protection against the deadly disease. Making it a green tea is a stroke of genius. Any good that happens will be credited immediately to the panda poo without investigation.

While An Yanshi says that the tea will have "a mature, nutty taste and a very distinctive aroma." Now, THAT claim I can believe. I am a farmer from away back; and, that scent is not unknown or distasteful to me. Now, having said that, I'm don't want my food to taste or smell like it. Even farmers want a change.

Readers: what do you think?

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