Hello all! I am back once again with a tea review and this one is incredible.
I was doing a little research about heicha since I love it so much and I came across something called “chong shi cha”, which directly translates to worm tea or worm dropping tea.
Yes, you read that right.
This tea is made with insect feces.
As soon as I read that I became very interested and I searched around until I found it on Chawang Shop. They had two (one from Sichuan and one from Guangxi) but the Sichuan was sold out.
The one I was able to buy was made in the 1980s by an ethnic minority group in Guangxi and was commonly exported to Hong Kong, Macau, and populations of overseas Chinese (ex. Singapore and Malaysia) due to its supposed health benefits.
The method of making this tea is very interesting – medicinal herbs and old tea leaves are put in a bamboo basket and left to ferment. The scent of the fermenting tea and herbs attracts insects, which lay their eggs in the basket. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the leaves and leave their droppings in the basket.
The droppings are taken out and sun-dried, and then fried with tea leaves and honey to finalize it for consumption.
Now, I’ve never eaten feces before (nor have I ever wanted to) but this tea was too interesting for me to not buy it. So I ordered it and in a few weeks I received it and immediately got my gaiwan ready to taste it.
As recommended by Chawang Shop, I steeped a few grams of it with 100 degrees Celsius water.
The dry leaves (or I guess droppings in this case) are very, very small and pellet-shaped. They are even smaller than CTC black teas. The droppings smell very, very earthy and almost exactly like a lake – intense notes of soil and a very present mineral quality of wet rocks. It’s actually kind of nostalgic for me since it reminds me of swimming in lakes as a kid.
leaves droppings smell like an old, dusty garage (I know, it sounds great). Very intense rocky notes are present with a little smokiness and a slight hint of leather.
The tea itself smells a lot like the dry droppings – it’s got that intense wet shale and soil scent that is almost exactly like lake water.
The taste of the tea, though, is very interesting. The first steep is full of intense shale flavors and at first it is a lot like drinking lake water, but I can definitely taste some other, more herby flavors that I assume are from the medicinal herbs put into the basket during production. There are hints of spice like clove and cinnamon with a subtle note of camphor. There is a very light note of sandalwood as well. A second steep was much darker (I may have brewed it too long) and it looked almost exactly like a shou pu-erh. The flavor was similar to the first steep but there were some more pronounced woody notes than in the first steep.
Overall, I actually did like this tea however it was a little intense (I think I would use less leaf and shorter steep times next time). Chawang Shop recommends adding a little of this tea to your liu bao which I personally think is a great idea and that’s probably what I will do with the rest of it.
I think this tea tastes a lot like a liu bao as well and it’s actually quite smooth and cooling. I would definitely recommend trying this, because it’s probably one of the most unusual teas out there and it actually tastes quite nice.
Rating: 10/10 (an extra point for being very novel and fun)
From: Chawang Shop
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China