We left Xishuangbanna quietly confident.  We’d found a number of candidates, some of the best maocha samples we thought we’d found since we’ve been making tea.  We tasted them and they were lovely.  Feeling no real need to, but just seeking confirmation, we sent the first two off to the lab to be tested for agrochemicals.  Today, we heard back.  They both had pesticide residues.

Puerh tea farmer with pesticide can, coming home from work

Puerh tea farmer with pesticide can, coming home from work

Travelling in China wreaks havoc on our tastebuds.  There’s chemicals in everything and they seem to sneak MSG into every other dish at restaurants, even if asked not to.  We didn’t taste the chemicals in these teas and, believe me, we were trying.  This kind of leaves me at a loss.  We bought 1 kg of each of these teas, so I’ll look forward to retasting them once back on home ground & I guess we’ll have some nice teas for a 2015 pesticide tasting set!!!  I’m still curious if we’ll be able to taste it at all, or whether this pesticide can evade our senses.

For those interested, both samples showed up with less than 0.03mg/kg of Cypermethrin, a toxin often used as an insecticide in agriculture, and in household ant and cockroach killer.

The EU Maximum residue limit for this chemical is 0.5mg/kg, so these teas are deemed safe enough to import and sell in the EU, and indeed it’s just a trace of this chemical found.  But would you want to drink it?  I don’t think I would.  Just a quick read of the Wikipedia page and I don’t really want to sample these teas again.

So for those who tell you pesticide isn’t used on old trees.  I say nonsense.  I wonder what you’d find if you started to send a selection of high-end puerh teas off to a lab.  I think you’d probably be shocked.

I kind of despair.  It gets more and more difficult to find clean teas each year.  Now we just have to send the rest of our candidates off for their lab test and keep our fingers crossed.

 

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