Tea with a touch of panda?

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, September 6, 2011
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An Yanshi.Tea with a touch of panda?

An Yanshi.Tea with a touch of panda?

A fan of green tea? How about green tea grown with panda excrement?

A man who claims it will have twice the anti-cancer properties of ordinary green tea has obtained a license for developing such a product from the Sichuan Province Copyright Administration.

An Yanshi, who says he teaches foreigners calligraphy at Sichuan University, told reporters that his green tea could sell at 2,196 yuan (US$343) for 50 grams when it is harvested. And he said he would raise the price to make it the world's most expensive tea because "pandas' excrement is very rare."

"As pandas are regarded as the national treasure, the green tea cultivated by their excrement should be regarded as the national tea," the Sichuan-based Tianfu Morning Post quoted An as saying.

According to the newspaper, An got the idea of cultivating the special green tea after he learned that pandas could only absorb 30 percent of the nutrition in their food, mostly bamboo. "That means the other 70 percent of the nutrition is in their excrement," An told the newspaper.

He believed panda excrement contained natural anti-cancer substances that may "grow into the green tea plants" to help patients combat cancer. "The effect may be doubled as green tea itself can also prevent cancer," An said.

Medical doctors and experts, however, doubt whether An's "national tea" can help fight cancer.

"Theoretically, green tea may contain anti-cancer substances, but I have never heard of people using panda excrement to combat cancer," said Sun Huichuan, a doctor at Shanghai's Zhongshan Hospital.

"So far, no scientific research can prove that the tea may have the special effect," Tang Chunxiang, a senior engineer with the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, told the newspaper. "The teacher is probably using the fame of pandas to promote his products."

An adult giant panda produces about 20 kilograms of excrement every day, and at the Sichuan panda base more than 200 tons of excrement can be produced every year. Some of it is used as fertilizer to cultivate bamboo, but the rest is usually thrown away, Tang told the newspaper.

The panda excrement green tea sparked heated online discussion, with many commentators criticizing An for trying to make money with his "pseudoscientific theory."

"An's idea has enlightened us that we should also use panda excrement to cultivate other 'national crops' such as rice, flower, etc, and sell them at sky-high prices," said Qiao Zhifeng.

And online poster Biubiu commented: "It's so ridiculous. Why don't they just directly eat the panda excrement to combat cancer?"

When Sichuan University was contacted yesterday, it said it had no record of An as a teacher there.

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