I bought some pu-erh, and, just out of curiosity, decided to crack the
cheapest cake in two halves. To my surprise, a little beetle-like
insect emerged and then retreated back to the cake.
Before contacting the vendor, I was wondering if this ever happened
with any of you, and if it is likely that the insect somehow got into
the cake in my house, since the steaming (it is a Shu cake) should have
killed anything like this.
Actually, many people see this as a good thing on the mainland. They
say that the bugs get in and make the cake better and that it can
account for the pu's age. We had a thread about this a long time ago;
you should search it.
Mike Petro also has something on his site about it.
As with any agricultural product, insect infestation is not uncommon.
Puerh is often warehoused for years which dramatically increases the
probability that a few critters will set up shop in there.
Quite frankly, in all likelihood the infestation occurred long before
your particular vendor acquired the Puerh. While the vendor certainly
should give you full credit for the cake if you find all of this
distasteful, it is probably not the vendors fault.
As Mydnight alluded to, in Asia the presence of insects is not seen
with the same repulsion as it is in the western world. Many Asians see
it as a good thing. A "rope" of insect droppings is sometimes found in
between the cakes and the leaf wrapping on tongs of really old cakes.
This "rope" is highly valued, the longer the rope the more it is
So take all of this into consideration before you beat up your vendor
You proably could get a visit from your local agricultural inspector.
I haven't noticed anything crawling out of or around any of my bamboo
bundles yet. I do notice some flaking from my exposed cakes but no
Thanks for the answers!
I've checked all my cakes, and found the source of the infection: It
was a stack from the six famous montains. The wrapping of all of them
is damaged, three of them have lots of insects, and they are little
beetles, not moths like the the poopoo puerh, which makes me suspect it
is a bad infection. Or are all insects beneficial to the cakes?
If so, do you think it is a good idea to put the infected cakes aside
and wait for them to become something like Poo Poo Puer? The vendor is
really nice, and I wouldn't like to ask replacement for half of my
I would get them as far from the rest of your collection as possible.
The moth thing is legit, I have multiple references on that; however
beetles sounds like some sort of undesirable infestation. Dont let them
destroy your other teas.
In any event, does it really matter what the Asians prize? If you
don't care for it then get rid of it. Your perception is the only
that really counts.
This reminds of eating shrimp in Spain and Greece. The first time I
ordered shrimp over there they brought out these humongous fantastic
looking prawns that had been cooked whole, each of them easily several
ounces at least. I was in heaven and proceeded to take the heads off
and peel them before eating them. Everybody in the restaurant looked at
me like I was an alien from Mars or something. It turns out that they
consider the shrimp heads to be a delicacy over there and I was sitting
there throwing away the BEST part! Guess what, even after finding out
all of that, I never did eat a shrimp head......
Word. Cow brains, Blue Crab "mustard", flattened dried salted candied
cuttlefish, live octopus, fish cheek meat/eyes, etc. All delicacies and
all unpalateable to me. It all comes down to personal taste and
tolerance, and I could kind of see how insects would be OK to some, but
I find it unsettling and would be unhappy to find a "prized rope" or a
beetle in any of my pu-erh. Just like I know some folks who find it
lucky to find a worm in their apple, and continue to eat away...
whereas it is tossed within milliseconds in my hands and then I'm an
unhappy camper for a bit.
Shrimp heads aren't in my book of prized culinary delights either, I'd
be in the same boat.
That does sound disgusting! But, aren't some common foods the result of very
small critters (bacteria) eating and excreting in the food? A few examples:
Yeah it is a give and take, and like I said about personal tolerance
and taste more than anything. But bacteria at least are invisible to
the eye, unlike a beetle or poop-rope :) And while we're at it I'll
have a medium-well black angus steak with gorgonzola on top and a nice
glass of red wine... now that is my kind of infestation and excrement.
mmm... small critter excrement done right!
I can't help get a number of good Pu-Erh advertisement ideas out of my
mind from this thread, such as: "Try our new improved thousand year old
tree Pu-Erh, now with 30% more poop-rope!" or "One lucky brick contains
a 6" poop-rope, it could be YOURS!" or "Our Pu-Erh contains 250 small
critters, gotta catch 'em all!" I could go on, but I'll spare you
all... and just take my medicine and go back to my padded cell.
Hooweeee, on my last trip to Sikkim I stayed with my friends family,
happily following Sikkimese customs [drinking tongba all day, no salt
or butter tea thanks] when at around 6 pm my old friend Pema turned up
with half a gigantic cowhead in my honour. The head had been sliced
exactly through the middle, Nepali style. Lying on the muddy kitchen
floor bloody side up it reminded me of a life 3D CT scan. I was already
sick as a dog from too much booze when my friend went about his
business taking that dead thing apart, cutting of the furry ear,
tongue, ... you name it. The best part came when it took him about 5
minutes to remove that huge dead eye with his fingers and a dull blade.
Guess where I went next.
Did I eat the "Soup of the day" ? I rather don´t think about that too
If I got any tea sent to me that had a bug crawling out of it customs would
promptly impound my tea if they saw it. Makes me shudder to think it - I
have enough trouble getting this "organic" stuff through as it is with all
the funny chinese script on it nobody in customs can read..