Tuesday, March 31, 2009

All the Tea in China

As you may know, I tend to read food labels fairly thoroughly. Recently, I've come across some highly suspicious information on some food packages. For starters, I was reading the description on a box of Trader Joe's Earl Gray tea and read the following

The earliest recorded evidence of the cultivation of tea plants comes from China in the 14th century...

This is, of course, completely wrong. Tea has been an important part of Chinese culture for millenia. According to Wikipedia, records of tea consumption in China date back to the 10th century BC. The earliest record I could find for recorded evidence of tea cultivation, not just consumption, is a work from the late 8th century called The Classic of Tea by Lu Yu, so Trader Joe's is off by at least 500 years.

Keeping with the China theme, I was standing in line at my local Chinese grocery store when I noticed some good-sized bags of whole black and white peppercorns. I knew we were running low, I grabbed one of each. At $2.50 for a 7oz bag, it's at least 4 times cheaper than pepper at the regular grocery store. When I got home and cracked into one of bags, I noticed something strange on the nutrition facts label.

According to the label, one serving of pepper contains 12.3% of your daily fat allowance! I read the label a little closer and noticed that the serving size is 3.5 oz. I know the Chinese like their food a little spicier than Americans, but 3.5 oz is more than an entire grocery store-sized spice container (the bottle of Spice Islands whole white pepper that this package replaced is 2.7 oz). As if that wasn't bad enough, the 7 oz package lists that it contains four 3.5 oz servings. Still, you can't beat those prices.

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