Finding small bugs or even beetles in your tea is disgusting! Yet it might not be a big deal. Tea is a natural product. No matter what quality control a company has in place, there’s always a change that bugs get into the tea. At least, you know there where no pesticides used to chase them away.

There’s generally no reason for worry about whether the tea is still good to drink. Simply remove the insects and continue to brew your tea.

However, sometimes bugs can appear after the tea is processed and packed, which often happens with pu erh tea cakes.

White Bugs In Compressed Tea, Now What?

Imagine that you have friends over, and you are about to drink some fine pu erh tea together. Sound nice, isn’t it? You get the tea cake out of storage, then unwrap the cotton paper, and find some tiny white bugs dance underneath. What a surprise!

What are these bugs? Is this good old tea cake gone? Don’t worry. These bugs are harmless other than leaving some holes on the wrapping paper. They look like miniature crickets, love to eat and only eat the cotton paper wrapper. That’s why they got the nickname ‘paper bugs’.

Although they won’t affect the quality of the tea, you do want to get rid of them. First, you’ll have to remove the bugs by using a dry brush or cloth. Double check to make sure there are no bugs left. Throw the old paper wrapper away and replace it with a new one. If you don’t have spare paper wrappers, you can use some other alternative storage tools such as bamboo boxes or clay pots.

The appearance white paper bugs is also a sign of humidity. You may want to store your tea in a drier and more ventilated environment to make sure the bugs don’t appear again.

Black Bugs In Tea: Bug Poop Tea

If you happen to encounter greyish-black kind of insects in your tea, don’t feel sick and throw the tea away. They are probably friendly tea bugs that often appear in dark tea.

Unlike paper bugs, they only munch on tea leaves. In fact, they are quite picky as only good tea could please them! Having these bugs in your tea is a good thing – it means your tea is made of high quality raw materials without chemical residue. Tea bugs have a short life cycle. When they die, they become a part of the tea, along with their poop.

You may wonder: is the tea still drinkable with the bug droppings? The answer is yes. As a matter of fact, there is even a special kind of tea called bug poop tea. It has a similar concept of civet coffee, but it’s different. The making of this type is more deliberate though.

If you haven’t treated yourself some bug shit tea, you perhaps should. Don’t think of it something disgusting, but rather as a culinary opportunity. It’s good shit you seriously don’t want to miss!


  • davidsig
    May 12, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Interesting… I’ve found some very small bugs on pu erh and fu zhuan, they’re small, very small like ants and white-yellow color. I though these are the paper bugs, but they appeared on tea that is in a yixing pots without paper. ¿ Any ideas ?

    • teasenz
      May 12, 2021 at 6:25 pm

      You mean you stored it inside a Yixing pot without paper? In that case, it shouldn’t get white paper bugs. Perhaps the Yixing pot is stored in a humid place? I would take out the cake, remove all the bugs, let it air for 2 hours. Then store it sealed in a zipper bag in a dark closet for a week. This will allow the cake to dry. Afterwards, put it back in the Yixing pot (cleaned of course) and place it in a less humid place.

      Note: if the cake tastes off, then it might have gone bad. In that case you’ll unfortunately have to discard it.

      • davidsig
        May 13, 2021 at 5:52 am

        Thanks ! In fact I live in a very humid place in the mediterranean coast. I’ve put two denumidifiers and temperature-humidity sensors in the area where the tea is stored. Tea seems to taste ok, but I discarded it. Today after cleaning yixing, I come to the sealed bag where thre rest of the tea was stored and the bugs are there. They seem to come with tea and eggs hatched at spring… I will try to let it air and register humidity on tea. I will tell the results. Thank you !!

  • Melvin da Costa
    September 20, 2021 at 7:28 am

    Hey any update. I’m curious to know how it went, because I have a similar issue with small white bugs.

    • Davidsig
      September 20, 2021 at 2:23 pm

      Hello, I’m still fighting with the bugs, but these are my current tests and conclusions:

      Put the tea on a sunny surface and control humidity.
      Has no effect over bug population.

      Put the tea in a bag and add some food dissecant and oxygen remover bags.
      After two week population of bugs decreased, but eggs (wherever they are) survived, as soon as the tea has some oxygen (even with low humidity) bugs reapear suddenly.

      After some research, these bugs are not a health threat, and I decided to taste the tea.

      The tea not only tasted good, bug eaten tea seems to taste stronger and mellower, I will say that tastes slightly better.

      Bugs live inside tea, and I never found a single one on the bag.

      I put a part of the tea on the fridge, and below -15° bugs and eggs died, but also the tea was partly ruined.

      If you can live with the bugs, use 2 plastic bags or silicone bags to avoid them to colonize all your home.
      If you can’t live with bugs put tea with some food dissecant and wait for 2 weeks, if bugs still remain, throw it.

      Note that in my case bugs come with tea.
      I revised all my teas (over 70 cakes).
      Only this and other had bugs. The other was a shu pu er loosely compressed that comes from a humid warehouse.

      So getting teas from kumming will be a hint to avoid bugs.


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