Special tea blend containing cocaine was sold in Italy like any other herbal tea. However, effects of this herbal tea are quite different than any other herbal blend tea.
The matter came to light after a bus driver with the Genoa transport authority, Amt, was tested positive while undergoing a routine drugs test. The driver with a 10 year exemplary service record had a cup of herbal tea containing cocaine in the mornings before work because it made him feel alert. 38-year-old Roberto from Genoa was not aware that his morning cuppa contained small amounts of an illegal substance.
Police have been ordered to confiscate the herbal brew from Peru that has been widely available in Italian shops for years.
The bus driver said the only reason he might have failed his test was because the day before he had drunk a large cup of “delisse alla coca”, which he often brought from an ethnic food store in the centre of the city.
The bus driver told the medic the morning before he had made a brew using two teabags, and that he enjoyed the tea because it made him feel more alert at the wheel.
The company doctor, not wanting to see him suspended, asked him to bring two tea bags to his office, after which he made himself a brew and drank it.
The next day the doctor performed a drugs test on himself and promptly tested positive for cocaine.
The doctor then alerted Italy’s food police, Nas, who sent an officer to the ethnic food store to buy a box of ‘delisse alla coca’ tea so that it could be analyzed.
The officers also investigated the store owner’s paperwork.
The owner had all the relevant documentation and had been buying the tea from a Milan-based Peruvian wholesaler for years and selling it at the shop.
After testing the teabags, police said it was made with small quantities of cocaine leaves and contained not insignificant amounts of the active ingredient of the drug, cocaine hydrochloride.
The authorities immediately labelled the product “potentially dangerous” and reported that its effects would be strong enough to impair a motorist’s judgement.
They were stunned to discover the tea had passed all customs’ controls for years and have now ordered it to be removed from shops. They are also investigating the sole Peruvian importer who was bringing the tea into the country.
In Peru, cocaine-based teas such as ‘delisse alla coca’ have been enjoyed for thousands of years, especially by farmers in the Andes who drink them to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of altitude sickness.