(Repeats with link to video package)
By Royston Chan
YA'AN, China, March 19 China's national
treasure, the giant panda, will become even more precious if one
businessman succeeds in using their dung to grow organic green
tea he intends to sell for over $200 a cup.
An Yanshi, an entrepreneur in southwest China, grows the tea
in mountainous Ya'an in Sichuan province using tonnes of
excrement from panda bears living at nearby breeding centres.
The first batch of panda dung tea will be sold in lots of 50
grams that will cost some 22,000 yuan ($3,500) each, a price An
said makes it the world's most expensive tea. Most people use
about 3 grams of tea per cup.
An defended the steep price, saying he would channel profits
from the initial batches into an environmental fund. Future
batches would be cheaper, he added.
"I thank heaven and earth for blessing us with this
environmental panda tea," the 41-year-old former teacher and
journalist said at a weekend event to promote the tea.
"I just want to convey to the people of the world the
message of turning waste into something useful, and the culture
of recycling and using organic fertilisers."
Dressed in a panda suit to promote his tea, An invited a
dozen or so guests to help hand-pick the first batch of tea at
his plantation at the weekend.
The fertiliser made the tea a health boon, An said, because
pandas only eat wild bamboo and absorb only a fraction of the
nutrients in their food.
And pandas make plenty of fertiliser.
"They are like a machine that is churning out organic
fertiliser." An said. "They keep eating and they keep producing
"Also, they absorb less than 30 percent of the nutrition
from the food, and that means more than 70 percent of the
nutrients are passed out in their faeces."
After brewing the first pickings, An described the tea as
fragrant and smooth. Some of his guests, however, were not
"It's sold at such a sky-high price, perhaps this is just
hype," said 49-year-old Li Ximing. ($1 = 6.3227 Chinese yuan)
(Ediiting by Chris Buckley and Miral Fahmy)