As an agricultural product, tea will not be immune to the impact of changes to climate. Scientists at the Tocklai Tea Research Institute are preparing for this future.
Researchers have collected more than 200 tea plant varieties and developed 33 additional clones from the parent plants. They have placed the plants in chambers where the temperature and carbon levels can be adjusted and varied over time.
The experiments are in response to data that annual rainfall in Assam has dropped 200mm in the last century and temperatures are rising. Beyond the overall reduction in precipitation, other climate changes have impacted tea growing, including wild swings between drought and unusually heavy rains.
Too much rain can reduce photosynthesis which can affect tea flavor. Too little rain hurts overall production levels. Rising temperatures can increase the impact of pest damage and plant diseases.
The Tocklai Tea Research Institute was created in 1911. In 1964 the Tea Research Association was formed and research efforts were coordinated and expanded. The association has an advisory network of more than 1,000 tea estates throughout India.
Results of these experiments are due next year.