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A taste of China / Food & Drink

Fancy a “worm” cup of tea?

By Weiwei Guan

August 30

If you are given a cup of tea with a color similar to Pu’er, you’ll surely want to taste it. However, if you are told about what it is made from, you might think again.

If you are given a cup of tea with a color similar to Pu’er, you’ll surely want to taste it. However, if you are told about what it is made from, you might think again.

[Image Credit: www.syd.com.cn]
Located 400 kilometers from capital Changsha, Chang’anying (长安营) Township in Chengbu County (城步县) of the Miao ethnic minority, Hunan Province has a three hundred year history of making “worm tea,” believed to be the secret of longevity among locals.

Though being made from the dung of worms sounds really disgusting, no one in Chang’anying seems able to refuse this healthy drink, with its preparation process handed down from generation to generation.

During Grain Rain, the 6th solar term of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, which usually starts from April 19–April 21, tea producers pick tender buds from a kind of wild tree called “Malus Sieboldii,” which is good for detoxification and stemming bleeding. The buds are steamed in pots and dried under the sun, with a small amount of water remaining. They are then packed in bags and put aside in the loft to lure Aglossa dimidiate Hswoth, or worms measuring 1.5 to 2 centimeters. After about one year, the worms eat out the buds and leave their dung among the leftovers, which is sifted out and drunk as tea. Renowned for its slight fragrance and refreshing sensation, worm tea is a household drink among both adults and children.

Besides, researchers from Hunan Agricultural University found that worm tea contains a small amount of thrine, amino acids and polyphenols.

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