Are you a conservationist and a tea connoisseur? By using panda poo as fertilizer for a new kind of tea, one man in China thinks he has found the perfect tea for you — if you can afford it.
An Yanshi, a lecturer at Sichuan University also known for his panda paintings, has recently been awarded a patent for his idea, which he believes will allow him to break the record for the world's most expensive tea, according to the Metro.
"Pandas have a very poor digestive system and only absorb about 30 percent of everything they eat. That means their excrement is rich in fibers and nutrients," explained Yanshi, who also claims that the bamboo content of the fertilizer will give his tea anti-cancer properties.
"Just like green tea, bamboo contains an element that can prevent cancer, and enhance green tea's anti-cancer effects, if it is used as fertilizer for the tea," he said.
The added cancer-fighting quality professed by An is unproven, but the gimmick alone could make him a rich man. In his application for the patent, An claimed that tea grown from panda excrement could fetch as much as 440,000 yuan per kilogram. That's about $69,000 in U.S. dollars, or roughly $36,000 per pound.
By comparison, the world's most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, sells at anywhere between $100 and $600 a pound — chump change compared to panda tea. Interestingly, Kopi Luwak is also a product that passes through the the colon of an adorable mammal, the Asian palm civet. Connoisseurs believe that coffee beans pooped by the civet yield a more aromatic coffee with much less bitterness.
As for the taste of tea grown from panda poo: "It has a mature, nutty taste and a very distinctive aroma while it's brewing," explains An.
So far An has collected five tons of panda poo from the giant panda breeding center in Chengdu in preparation for his first batch of tea. The center produces about 200 tons of excrement a year, so there's plenty more where that came from.
If An does manage to sell his panda poo tea for anywhere near his initial asking price, it will also ensure him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records — at least until someone else comes up with the idea for tea fertilized with tiger or polar bear poop.