What should I do with this big bag (potentially larva infested) of tea?
October 27, 2013 9:53 AM   Subscribe

I was making a morning cup of tea when I noticed a little white thing in my tea strainer. Upon further inspection it looked a bit like this larva/maggot thing but with a blacker front end. So I'm pretty grossed out that this was there and my first instinct was to toss the whole bag (it's from Tea Gschwedner if anyone is curious). Is there anything else to do? First inspection I don't see anything else in the bag, but I haven't sorted through with a fine tooth comb either.
posted by Carillon to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If there are little animals in your tea, there is animal excrement in your tea. It may not be dangerous but even so, tea is something you drink for pleasure, not sustenance. Are you going to enjoy drinking this tea?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:57 AM on October 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Throw it out.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:02 AM on October 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

There's never just one. Toss it. And do a sweep of your kitchen and cabinets just to make sure you aren't playing host to any other uninvited guests. (protip: boiling water will kill maggots instantly.)
posted by tabula rasa at 10:13 AM on October 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ew. Dump it. Ew.
posted by xingcat at 10:14 AM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have no idea if it is, but if it's pantry moth larvae (see pic on that page), you not only want to get rid of the tea, but get rid of it with a vengeance, and check all your other pantry items right away. Many tales of pantry moth nightmares around the web, and here on Ask Metafilter. Pantry moths will infest tea... and pretty much anything, and are hell to get rid of, so blast that stuff out of the house immediately, and start checking your cupboards carefully.
posted by taz at 10:35 AM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Will you be able to enjoy the rest of the tea after this experience? I know I wouldn't. Chuck it. Sorry.
posted by k8lin at 10:35 AM on October 27, 2013

Yikes. Toss it now and do a thorough pantry and cabinet check and cleanout. Then get good sealing containers for your tea. (Use ziplocks or double ziplocks in the meantime.)

I drink a lot of tea, so just recycle the nice tins and containers I get but you can buy good sealing containers. Tea Gschwendner sells tins of course, or you can get stuff like tea canisters at container stores or from tea specialty places in real or virtual shops. It's nice to use metal or ceramic or dark glass to store tea - something that seals well and will not absorb odors.
posted by gudrun at 10:50 AM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Taz has it right. Pantry Moths are no joke and if the infestation is allowed to get worse, then you're going to have a bad time. You should be looking at disposing of all of your dry-goods, not just the tea. They didn't necessarily come in originally with the tea, so it could be anything.
posted by dodecapus at 11:06 AM on October 27, 2013

There are, at the VERY LEAST, eggs and poop in your tea. Throw it out, and spend the rest of the day sorting through everything on your shelves. Any dry goods that have a weird sort of webbing-y clump? Out they go, and they go out into a trash bag just for this purpose, which gets taken outside TODAY, and all your other containers get taken off the shelves and wiped down with a dilute bleach solution, as do your shelves. Wear gloves -- if there are larvae in your tea, chances are pretty sound that you have at least one lump of crawling, writhing horror in there,
posted by KathrynT at 11:14 AM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. It was a sealed bag so I wasn't worried about an infestation of other things, but I did throw out the few opened bags of dry good I had. It sounds like pantry moths are no fun, so fingers crossed to avoiding it any worse!
posted by Carillon at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2013

It doesn't look quite like a pantry moth larva to me (head colouring is different) but if I found a few of those in my kitchen, I'd assume it's a close relative and follow standard pantry moth procedures: throw out all food, clean like a maniac, and store all food in hermetically sealed solid containers from now on. (Hermetically sealed plastic bags aren't enough: pantry moths go right through them. So even completely unused, unopened packets of food can be infested.) Pantry moth life cycle is up to 300 days and they can hide in all kinds of places, so eternal vigilance is the price of not having larvae in all your food.
posted by pont at 11:44 AM on October 27, 2013

(Hermetically sealed plastic bags aren't enough: pantry moths go right through them. So even completely unused, unopened packets of food can be infested.)

I cannot stress this point enough. Ignore pont's warning at your peril! Signed, the woman who cut open a ten pound (heavy plastic) bag of quinoa to find it crawling with larvae.
posted by KathrynT at 12:06 PM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

I freeze almost all dry goods as they come in the house to keep pantry moths away.

Flour and dry grains especially.
posted by tomierna at 12:23 PM on October 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

A telltale sign of pantry moths is a kind of superfine webbing in the bag too. Also tiny holes in plastic bags. I've also had then follow the threads on a screw top bottle to infest spice jars. Insidious creatures!
posted by cecic at 1:18 PM on October 27, 2013

I'd recommend putting out some pantry moth traps just in case. Search Amazon for "Catchmaster pantry moth traps" - by the time you realize you need them, you'll wish you'd have ordered some already.
posted by beyond_pink at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2013

Since you asked if there was anything else you could do, I will offer this: the only other thing you could do it put it in the (very active) compost pile instead of the trash.
posted by CathyG at 6:33 AM on October 28, 2013

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