Say you’re suddenly craving that loose green tea you’ve had sitting around for several months. You go to open the can — not exactly airtight, but pretty close — and the first thing you notice is a web. The second thing you notice is a little maggoty creature, crawling around the side of the can, currently freaking out at the thought that the closest thing to God his maggoty little brain can comprehend has suddenly shone light inside his home for the first time in his maggoty little life.
Well, this happened to me tonight with organic Green Paradise tea from Heavenly Tea. It was part of a little four-pack of tea I bought back in March. The small tins they came in have been stored in my bedroom for the past several months over a humid Boston summer, but I don’t know how the bug got in there. Granted, our kitchen has has a minor fruit fly infestation, which seemed to be subsiding as the heat and humidity are starting to decrease. But this was not a fruit fly. It was a maggot — a pantry, or Indian meal, moth larvae who was probably destined to become a moth someday until I ended his maggoty little life.
I dumped out the tea on the counter and looked at it. I noticed that the little dried fruit bits that are supposed to add that “velvety mouthfeel” mentioned on the website were all damp like he’s been chewing on them. Maybe that’s the lesson: Don’t keep green tea with fruit bits in it for long periods of time. Of course the fact that it’s organic may have had something to do with it, and maybe that’s the corollary to the lesson: If you are going to buy tea with fruit bits and expect you may keep it for a long period of time, at least get the kind that’s been saturated with insecticide, since They Say that putting tea in the fridge or freezer is a bad idea (I’ve never tried it, so I can’t confirm this).
While for me, this is the first time I’ve ever found a bug in my tea, apparently it’s not unheard of in the tea world. Here’s someone who wrote last spring about their “wet stored 90s tea” which was found with some kind of infestation. And here is an eHow guide to identifying bugs found in teabags (which simply recommends in the end that you throw out the infested tea, never explaining what you might gain by identifying the bugs first).
So, the answer the question of what should you do if you ever find maggots in your tea is: Throw it out. Duh.