In the Westport neighborhood of Kansas City, there is a place called The Tea Drop. It is like many coffee shops in the world except for one thing: it only serves tea. Oolong tea and Jasmine tea and weirder types that involve made-up words like “Yunnan” or “Lichee.”
As one of the world’s biggest coffee fans, I was very skeptical of this place. I had no interest in visiting, but like many things in my life, I was forced to give it a try by my wife. That’s how I found myself standing there in The Tea Drop staring at the jars of tea leaves that lined the walls.
“What type of tea do you like?” the young hippie girl behind the register asked.
I did not know the answer. I knew that Lipton was not an acceptable answer. I glanced at the list of teas on the wall, and for a second thought about shouting “Keemum Mao Feng!” or “Ceylon Kenilworth Estate!” just to get her off my back. I knew, though, that I would most likely mispronounce two-thirds of the name and my lack of tea knowledge would be exposed.
“Uh……Oolong?” I said, hoping it was an acceptable answer.
“Oh, we have a lot of oolongs. I really like the North Mountain Jade and the Amber Dragon.”
The good news was she had narrowed it down to two flavors for me. The bad news was I had no idea what either one of those was. In fact, I didn’t know what an oolong tea was. I wondered if my lack of tea knowledge would get me laughed at the whole time I was there. I didn’t know if I should drink with my pinky up like a refined gentleman or drink it like a normal human being would. Maybe in tea houses they drink their hot tea through a straw or toss the cup into the air and try to catch as much of the steaming liquid in their mouths as possible. I didn’t know.
Clearly I had no business being there. I did not understand the culture and I’m beginning to think I never will.
How can you make sense of a society where people will pay $200 for a cup of tea just because a panda’s poop has touched it?
As far as entrepreneurial ideas go, there are ideas that sound completely insane on paper but when said out loud drift more into ravings of a lunatic category. This is the type of idea that one Chinese man has dreamed up.
After growing tea, An Yashi got a brilliant idea. Everyone loves tea. Everyone loves pandas. Since everyone loves both tea and pandas, he should find a way to combine them. Yashi’s first attempt of teaching a panda to daintily drink tea failed miserably, so he moved on to the next idea.
One trip to the local panda breeding center later, An was spreading fresh “fertilizer” all over his tea leaves. Since pandas are terrible at digesting food, their feces contains way more undigested nutrients than most, so An had decided that this would be the ultimate fertilizer.
Now, An is planning on setting a world record by selling this tea for AT LEAST $36,000 a pound. That means that someone somewhere will pay what some people earn in an entire year for a pound of tea. I would absolutely hate to be friends with that person:
“Would you like some tea?”
“Good. This stuff is really first-rate.”
Slurp. “Yeah, its okay I guess.”
“Okay? It’s fantastic. Did I tell you I paid $36,000 for this tea?”
“You paid what?”
“$36,000. It’s the best tea in the world though, so…”
“It kind of tastes like the stuff I have at home.”
“ How much was that?”
“$4 for a box.”
Slurp. “…Did I mention that this grew in panda poop?”
If An can get that much money for his tea, I guess congratulations are in order. I have never had an idea that
insane brilliant in my life. If I grew tea, I would continue to grow tea in the same way without searching for exotic feces.
Of course, I could never understand anyway. It’s a tea thing.
- Panda Poo Tea (weeklyworldnews.com)
- Tea Basics 107: What is Oolong Tea? (qtradeteas.wordpress.com)
- Panda poop tea venture brewing, at $200 a cup (canada.com)
- Oolong Tea: Break it down (rantsbitstea.wordpress.com)
- Tuesday Tea Taste! (idhbic.com)