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Pesticide in aged Puerh

Sample labelled as “2007 Pasha big tree”, 357g cake of a moderate cost, made by a producer from which I got two other quite good samples.

I had it once before but I was a bit distracted, today I happened to serve it to a group of 3 guests, here’s what happened:

  • Wash: Nice sweet smell
  • First cup 85-90c: nice sweet smells, some qi
  • Second cup, 95c: deep aftertaste, some nice bitterness, tasty, strong centering qi impact

Mostly it continues like that after for a few more infusions: aftertaste is good, a bit of thickness, nice mouthfeel

But… there’s something not quite right. Actually there’s a bit of weird aftertaste in my mouth, and when I check my throat also feels closed. Tongue/lips a bit numb too.

Ah, signs of pesticide. And now that I see it, my mouth/throat area really doesn’t feel comfortable.

By the middle of the session I’m quite sure, I interrupt the session and ask the 3 guests (some are students, some are friends), what they thought of the tea.

They have a few positive things to say (which I agreed with), but none of them can quite express at first there’s something “wrong” with the tea. But when I inquire how does their mouth feel they mostly say “well my throat feels a bit closed, and I feel thirsty” (I’d put it as weird aftertaste rather than thirsty, but I could see what they meant).

The tea is otherwise quite good and enjoyable, and for the price particularly.


The interesting thing here is that it took me a formal session in silence to be sure that indeed this tea had this significant flaw. I wasn’t in love with the tea at first, but it also wasn’t that clear there is pesticide.

This is the kind of “light enough” flaw that the person who sold it to me probably wouldn’t be able to tell, and I expect this is the case in the majority of tea sold: most vendors are not looking for or are not sensitive enough to pesticide, so a tea that’s quite good in some ways (seems to be nicely aged big tree material) ends up being sold on to final customers.

So those are some signs to pay attention to, and a tale about actually actively looking for signs of pesticide when you drink tea, ideally in a focused session.


Yet another sample, yet another tea to forget about… this is how we end up choosing 1-5% of the samples we try to eventually offer to the public.

I thought it would be quite instructive to see what an otherwise good tea with pesticide feels like, so I split the rest of my samples in 6g bags (7 of them) for you to try, free, add it here: Tea with pesticide – 2007 Pasha big tree

Don’t lose heart, once you’re paying attention it’s possible to find good clean tea, and sadly, some amount of pesticide is on a lot of what we consume anyway so it’s not like you will be terribly poisoned, but it’s good to be aware that there’s more and less clean tea.

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