bugs in tea


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

bugs in tea

Postby wyardley » May 16th, '10, 00:25

I think not the "good" kind....

I got a tong of somewhat wet-stored '90s tea recently, as well as a few loose cakes of earlier '90s stuff. Both show signs of critters living in them - saw at least one rice-sized larvae and one silverfish looking bug on one of the cakes from the tong, as well as some yellowish-dust on the bamboo wrapping (more than you'd expect from just normal deterioration). The loose cakes showed some signs of insect damage as well, and I noticed a tiny mite on one of them.

In addition, some of my older teas may show less noticeable, but similar signs (I think from before the new teas were introduced).

I vacuum sealed some of the affected cakes individually in food-saver type bags. From what I can tell, even if the larve hatch, they should die from the low oxygen - do folks think I need to do anything further to kill
them? I'd like to avoid freezing or dry ice unless I really have to. Any idea on how long would be ideal - 1 month? Should the better-stored tong I got on the same trip (which spent maybe a week in the same suitcase) get vacuum sealed whole somehow, or at least be quarantined?

This rec.food.drink.tea thread has some interesting information, but haven't been able to find too much other practical advice for what to do about dealing with an existing infestation.
http://groups.google.com/group/rec.food ... .tea&pli=1

Also, the RH in my cabinet is currently around 70-72%. Do folks think that reducing it, or temporarily suspending humidification entirely would further help?
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby TIM » May 16th, '10, 01:21

Oh No.... A contamination from the new purchase? Raw should not have any little friends in it :roll: But cooked is another story. I would do the freezing, since its the recommended way for treating fine cigars. Sorry my friend....
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby wyardley » May 16th, '10, 02:40

It's sheng... but been thorough at least mild wet storage and coming from a humid climate.

Worried that freezing might cause problems of one sort or another.
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby Rithmomachy » May 17th, '10, 14:17

TIM wrote:Oh No.... A contamination from the new purchase? Raw should not have any little friends in it :roll: But cooked is another story....
Wait, so cooked pu should have "friends" in it? :shock:
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby chittychat » May 17th, '10, 23:27

Live and let live. How much damage can those little buggers do anyhow? I see few silver fishes among my puerh and I am not worried at all. 8)
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby betta » May 19th, '10, 14:37

wyardley wrote:I think not the "good" kind....

I got a tong of somewhat wet-stored '90s tea recently, as well as a few loose cakes of earlier '90s stuff. Both show signs of critters living in them - saw at least one rice-sized larvae and one silverfish looking bug on one of the cakes from the tong, as well as some yellowish-dust on the bamboo wrapping (more than you'd expect from just normal deterioration). The loose cakes showed some signs of insect damage as well, and I noticed a tiny mite on one of them.

In addition, some of my older teas may show less noticeable, but similar signs (I think from before the new teas were introduced).

I vacuum sealed some of the affected cakes individually in food-saver type bags. From what I can tell, even if the larve hatch, they should die from the low oxygen - do folks think I need to do anything further to kill
them? I'd like to avoid freezing or dry ice unless I really have to. Any idea on how long would be ideal - 1 month? Should the better-stored tong I got on the same trip (which spent maybe a week in the same suitcase) get vacuum sealed whole somehow, or at least be quarantined?

This rec.food.drink.tea thread has some interesting information, but haven't been able to find too much other practical advice for what to do about dealing with an existing infestation.
http://groups.google.com/group/rec.food ... .tea&pli=1

Also, the RH in my cabinet is currently around 70-72%. Do folks think that reducing it, or temporarily suspending humidification entirely would further help?


I guess the vacuum applied on the teacake already stops the microbe growth as they are aerobic.
No idea how long will they survive it if keeps this way for certain periode of time.
I'm sorry to say this but if I were you, I wouldn't vacuum it because even if the larvae die, they die in the teacake and decay there. Instead I would use camphor to drive them away from the teacake and later on airing out the tea for further storage. So the idea with champor isn't really bad though.
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby Rithmomachy » May 20th, '10, 18:59

Rithmomachy wrote:
TIM wrote:Oh No.... A contamination from the new purchase? Raw should not have any little friends in it :roll: But cooked is another story....
Wait, so cooked pu should have "friends" in it? :shock:

I find the lack of answer to this question rather disturbing . . . . I know wu di is basically a compost heap, but I don't expect actual critters in there. At least not on purpose!
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby betta » May 22nd, '10, 09:36

Rithmomachy wrote:
Rithmomachy wrote:
TIM wrote:Oh No.... A contamination from the new purchase? Raw should not have any little friends in it :roll: But cooked is another story....
Wait, so cooked pu should have "friends" in it? :shock:

I find the lack of answer to this question rather disturbing . . . . I know wu di is basically a compost heap, but I don't expect actual critters in there. At least not on purpose!


I can understand your feeling. Those who know, don't always share their knowledge as they also got it through hard ways.
It's just like: there's no free lunch...
In some circumstances, when it comes to food, I found myself better not to know what happened behind the scene, especially during preparation :lol:

I do have an interest to know what method have Wyardley chosen in the end, even though there's a possibility that it might not be disclosed openly.
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby TIM » May 22nd, '10, 10:14

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_mar ... ected=true

As long as its good, why think too much?
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby Zpro » May 22nd, '10, 12:28

OMG:
Casu Marzu: "traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese, notable for being riddled with live insect larvae. It is found mainly in Sardinia, Italy. Casu marzu literally means "rotten cheese" in Sardinian, and the cheese is known colloquially as maggot cheese. When disturbed, the larvae can launch themselves for distances up to 15 centimetres (6 in). Some people clear the larvae from the cheese before consuming; others do not.

Interesting comparison Tim, haha never could have imagined such an odd food.

I cant imagine eating the cheese with the maggots in it and feeling them jump around in your mouth...
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby debunix » May 22nd, '10, 12:40

Wishing now--not for the first time--that this forum had an option to forget or hide topics not of interest, or more particularly, that I wish to forget, in order to not keep seeing that image of maggots swimming in my cheese, over and over.....so I can forget I ever saw it!
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby bearsbearsbears » Jun 17th, '10, 01:27

Pics of bug damage to this tea available at my new blog post here.

:mrgreen:
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby nickE » Jun 17th, '10, 01:42

debunix wrote:Wishing now--not for the first time--that this forum had an option to forget or hide topics not of interest, or more particularly, that I wish to forget, in order to not keep seeing that image of maggots swimming in my cheese, over and over.....so I can forget I ever saw it!

Agreed.

My face after reading: :D :arrow: :? :arrow: :shock: :arrow: :cry:

At least it makes bugs in pu seem more tolerable.
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby Marco » Jun 17th, '10, 07:25

Zpro wrote:OMG:
Casu Marzu: "traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese, notable for being riddled with live insect larvae. It is found mainly in Sardinia, Italy. Casu marzu literally means "rotten cheese" in Sardinian, and the cheese is known colloquially as maggot cheese. When disturbed, the larvae can launch themselves for distances up to 15 centimetres (6 in). Some people clear the larvae from the cheese before consuming; others do not.


The last sentence in this description is crap. There is no way in removing them - be sure. Have seen a documentary about strange food all over the world and Casu Marzu was one of them. I wouldn't even taste for big money. Think of everything is moving, crawling, jumping in your cheese. :shock: :shock:
Gives a new meaning to the word "biologically" :mrgreen:

And now back to a realy clean and good tea :)
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Re: bugs in tea

Postby spinmail » Jun 18th, '10, 21:02

I think your first step would be to isolate your various tea cakes to avoid contamination. Keep your wet-stored puerh away from other tea; at least, your other cakes will be relatively clean.

But there are concerns. If you freeze the tea to kill the pests, the insects will stay in the cake. If you put the cake in an anaerobic vacuum, the pests will die, but the biological material may end up rotting. Leaving it alone doesn't address the presence of insect larvae.

I can't give you a proven solution, however. I'd subject the cakes to a vacuum to kill the critters; there's no guarantee they did any damage, but they're eating something - your tea. Next, I would meticulously brush the surface of the cake; the pests most likely are going to stay on the surface of the cake, where it's easiest to live. Finally, use a high-intensity vacuum - like a shop vac - to make sure the cake doesn't have any sundry insect parts.
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