Mad in China: organic panda dung tea – for £125 a cup

China's national treasure, the giant panda, will become even more precious if one businessman succeeds in using its dung to grow organic green tea which he intends to sell for more than £125 a cup.

An Yanshi, an entrepreneur in southwest China, grows the tea in mountainous Ya'an in Sichuan province using tonnes of excrement from pandas living at nearby breeding centres.

The first batch of panda dung tea will be sold in lots of 50 grams that will cost some 22,000 yuan (£2,190) each, a price Mr An said makes it the world's most expensive tea. Most people use about 3 grams per cup.

Mr An defended the steep price, saying he would channel profits from the initial batches into an environmental fund. Future batches would be cheaper, he added.

Dressed in a panda suit to promote his tea, the 41-year-old former teacher and journalist invited a dozen or so guests to help hand-pick the first batch of tea at his plantation at an event to promote the tea at the weekend.

The fertiliser made the tea a health boon, Mr An said, because pandas eat only wild bamboo and absorb only a fraction of the nutrients in their food.

And pandas make plenty of fertiliser. "They are like a machine that is churning out organic fertil- iser," Mr An said.