The history of tea spans centuries and the history of fake tea is almost as long. As far back as two hundred years ago, British tea drinkers had to deal with the unscrupulous dealers seller used tea leaves and “smouch”, a fake tea made from ash tree and treated with sheep’s dung (among other things). And that’s not including the fact that legal teas were often dyed green to be more aesthetically pleasing. While the fake tea problem we face today is not as serious, it still exists.
Currently, fake tea can be divided into two categories. The first is origin-obscuring fraud, such as the Taiwanese farmer was found to have passed off Vietnamese oolongs as Taiwanese oolongs last year, allowing him to mark up his prices by as much as eight times. And in 2014, Guangzhou police seized eight tons of fake Da Yi Puer, which were actually made in a different location than claimed. Since that tea can be forty times cheaper than Da Yi tea, that’s a very hefty markup!
The second type of fake tea is much more dangerous and involves passing off unsafe tea as safe. In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has discovered that tea stalls are adulterating their teas with food colourings. Going back to our Vietnamese-Taiwan teas, Taiwan’s Department of Health discovered dicofol, a banned pesticide, on Vietnamese teas which are “often sold as Taiwanese tea or made into tea-based drinks”.
Now that’s the stuff of nightmares!
So how do you know that the tea you’re buying is what it claims to be, and more importantly – SAFE?
Short of becoming a tea expert, one solution is to buy from reliable tea brands. But that leads us to the question — how do you know if a tea brand is reliable, especially if you’re trying it for the first time?
This is where teapasar comes in. In conjunction with internationally renowned research institutes, we’ve developed a piece of technology called ProfilePrint that allows us to check if teas are from their claimed provenance (read more about ProfilePrint™ here). Think of it as fingerprinting for teas, if you will. This means that all teas sold on the teapasar platform can and are continually monitored for consistency. Let us do the worrying and testing, all you have to do is shop.