Assam Tea Taste Being Altered by Climate Change - Crop Yields Dropping, Too

assam tea photo

photo: A Girl With Tea/Creative Commons

Oh no! If you're a tea lover like this TreeHugger then some reporting from The Guardian comes as doubly dire news: Apparently climate change is both reducing crop yields of India's Assam tea and changing its much-prized characteristic flavor. Besides being a personal issue of tea preference--Assam tea fuels many-a-post from this particular author--this has serious implications for Indian's tea industry. According to Tea Board of India stats, yields in Assam have dropped from 512,000 tons in 2007 to 445,000 tons in 2009, with further declines expected in 2010. This has happened despite tea being grown on more land, and comes at the same time that we've learned that average temperatures in the region have increased 1°C over the past 60 years, with rainfall declining by 20%.

tea picking photo

photo: Akarsh Simha/Creative Commons

As far as the all-important taste goes, one tea grower quoted in the original piece notes,

The creamy and strong flavor is no more. There is a huge demand for Assam tea abroad, and this is due to its strong, bright flavor. The changes will sharply hamper the demand for this variety of tea abroad.

While climate change is playing a factor with changes in taste, Mridul Harazrika, director of the oldest tea research station in the world says changing fertilizer usage and cultivation methods may also figure in.

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