OSP Tea! #2 Weird and wonderful

Now for the interesting tangents… Tea is pretty cheap, as a commodity (according to indexmundi tea has sold for just over US$2 p/kg for the last couple of months), and depending on where you buy your tea, one cup could cost US$0.09![1] What?? Even if you pay US$10 for a 2oz bag of loose leaf tea, which is on the more upscale end, it only comes out to US$0.55.[2]

On the other hand, nothing special ever stays absolutely accessible. One of my first wanderings into the tea world, I had to search out the most expensive tea… and it coincided quite conveniently with the weird and bizarre things people do to set their tea-drinking apart from what may be considered plebian. First-off I do not consider it a special kind of tea experience when there are golden flakes brewed among the tea leaves! That’s just bizarre and says nothing about a love of tea, rather more about a personal lack of authenticity. With that mini rant out of the way… There is a tea that embodies both decadent indulgence as well as adventurous daring! 🙂 This is the kind of beverage that, were I to be blessed by its ingestion, I don’t know whether I would brag about drinking a US$200 cup of it, or to just keep to myself what it is I’ve spent that much cash on… It is o.O panda dung tea.[3]

Unlike the civet coffee where the animal actually eats and poops out the bean, in this case the tea fields are fertilized with panda dung. Actually, that’s not so bad… An Yanshi, the guy whose idea this is, calls it environmental, organic tea in the spirit of recycling and using waste in positive ways. Whatever floats your boat, man 🙂

The other interesting, marvelous and tastea beverages on the list are not nearly in the price range of panda dung tea, provided you can come by all of the ingredients. Here goes in no particular order:

1. Pocha: Yak butter tea! 🙂 After trying butter in my coffee, this sounds like something I will have to try. Instead of milk or cream they mix the brewed tea with yak butter; apparently it’s slightly salty and rather resembles broth. They drink it to keep warm in the Himalaya mountains and around Tibet.[4]

2. Kombucha: Fermented tea! Homemade kombucha is absolutely delicious, though it is becoming a popular bottled drink as well. Black tea works best for some reason, but I’ve had infusion blends too – black tea and orange blossom was good. The black tea is brewed super strongly, add a bunch of sugar dissolved in water and the special ingredient is a scoby (a culture of bacteria and yeast that will do the job of fermenting the tea & sugar combination).[5] You can buy a scoby on Amazon and I’ve seen them in organic supermarkets. It takes a couple tries to get the taste you want… but if it’s too much work for you, buy a bottle and try some first.

Photo Credit: alfaltendorf via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: alfaltendorf via Compfight cc

3. Pu’erh: Fermented tea! Again? Part of the process of making pu’erh tea out of the picked leaves, right after they’re dried, is fermentation and oxidation. Where kombucha is regular black tea that is brewed and then fermented, pu’erh undergoes this process in a fungus, not a scoby, before you even buy the pellets or bricks in a shop. This is a rare kind of tea you can steep in boiling hot water for as long as you like, but beware… the taste gets earthier, funkier and more pungent the longer it lounges in your mug. Pu’erh is an incredibly strong-tasting tea, what I like to call dirty – I imagine I can taste the soil in was grown in, the sun that beat down on its unfurling leaves and the rain that collected in muddy pools around its roots. The most notorious is the ‘camel’s breath’ pu’erh, so called because it tastes like a dying camel is wheezing into your open mouth. I’ve heard nothing but praise for it, though.[6]

Riveting references
[1] At Twinings’ online store you can buy a box of 50 teabags for ÂŖ2.69 (right now it’s about US$4.57), which means US$0.09 per cup.
[2] 2oz of teavana’s Empress of China Tea is US$10, and based on 1,5 teaspoons of tea per cup and their estimate of roughly 27 teaspoons out of the 2oz bag, one serving comes out to US$0.55.
[3] Chan,R.(2013) Panda dung tea: Chinese entrepreneur uses bear excrement for $200-a-cup organic beverage. Retrieved July 20 2014 from Huffington Post online
[4] Top100 arena (2012) Top 10 bizzare teas you didn’t know people drank Retrieved July 21 from Top100Arena.com
[5] Make Kombucha Tea Retrieved July 26 from Wikihow
[6] About Puer tea(2011) Retrieved July 25 from Sevencups.com


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Filed under food & Drink, Obsessions, Strange

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