When we think of tea, pandas may not instantly come to mind. But all that is about to change as China's giant bears are helping to create the world's most expensive fertilizer. As dung from the black and white cuties is being used to fertilise tea plants which, when harvested and processed, sells for up to 70,000 dollars a kilo.
An adult giant panda at a conservation in China's Sichuan
Province spends over 12 hours a day eating up to 15 kilograms of bamboo. Only 30 percent of this is absorbed by the panda, the other 70 percent of fibre and mineral rich-waste is excreted. At the Bifengxia Panda Base, 70 pandas produce more than 200 tons of dung every year.
The pandas' excrement used to be thrown away as rubbish. Until a former University lecturer started producing a very special blend of tea fertilised with the panda's dung.
An Yanshi, panda tea creator, said, "The giant panda does not eat food which is grown with chemical fertiliser and pesticide. It eats the bamboo in the mountains with good ecological environment which grows in a purely natural way. Therefore, I am sure that the kind of tea fertilised with panda dung must be much better than those with any other fertiliser."
At the beginning of spring, the first batch of tea picked is considered the best quality - one batch sells for a whopping 440,000 yuan a kilogram.
An says his mission is to convince the world to protect the environment and replace chemical fertilisers with animal excrement.
An said, "Chemical fertiliser has damaged the quality of our farm land, making the soil hardened and poor. By using the organic fertiliser, we will be able to make the soil richer and looser and the food more nutritious, tasty, original and natural."
Tea connoisseurs have been invited to witness the harvest of the world's most expensive tea. Some can even help pick new buds from the bushes.
Wu Dan, car saleswoman, said, "It's too expensive. I wouldn't buy it. I would rather spend 220,000 yuan to buy a car than to buy just half a kilo of tea!"
For neighbouring tea farmers who are growing tea with mixed fertiliser, the idea of using panda dung is a clever way of promoting the tea in their village.
Huang Yusong, local tea farmer, said, "Now it is very popular to promote the idea of environmentally-friendly and non-polluting products."
So from these beautiful bears comes a valuable good that makes a profitable, delicious tea, which also gives back to the environment.