A Chinese entrepreneur believes he has discovered the key ingredient to produce the world's most expensive tea – panda poo.
It is reported that An Yanshi, a former calligraphy teacher, will sell the first batch of tea leaves that have been fertilised with panda faeces in the spring at almost 220,000 yuan ($35,000) for 500 grams (18 ounces).
The Chinese man has purchased 11 tonnes of faeces from a breeding centre to fertilise a tea crop in the mountains of Sichuan province in southwestern China where the pandas live, according to a report in the Telegraph today.
In an interview with newswire ADF, An said the first harvest of tea leaves in the spring will be the "world's most expensive tea," with subsequent batches selling for around 20,000 yuan. This is because in China, the first batch of tea to be harvested in early spring is regarded as the best quality with successive batches considered inferior.
It is reported that the 41 year-old has been ridiculed for his extravagant claims of the potential health benefits of the tea. But he insists he is serious, admitting he quit his job at Sichuan University to throw himself into his company, Panda Tea.
"Panda dung is rich in nutrition ... and should be much better than chemical fertilisers," An said. "People should make a harmonious relationship with heaven, earth and the environment," An said.
"Everybody has an obligation to protect the environment," he added, as he showed AFP dozens of traditional Chinese scroll paintings that he has created of cheerful-looking pandas, bamboo and calligraphy.
The tea enthusiast had the brainwave to use panda faeces as fertiliser when attending a seminar last year where he discovered that the bears absorbed less than 30% of the bamboo they consumed, excreting the remaining 70%.