Indian tea tastes different due to climate change

Dec 31, 2010 By WASBIR HUSSAIN , Associated Press
An Indian laborer plucks tea leaves at a tea garden in Amchong tea estate, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Friday, Dec. 31, 2010. Tea growers in northeastern India say climate change has hurt the country's tea crop, leading not just to a drop in production but also subtly altering the flavor of their brew. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

(AP) -- Tea growers in northeastern India say climate change has hurt the country's tea crop, leading not just to a drop in production but also subtly altering the flavor of their brew.

Tropical Assam state, with its high humidity and lush greenery, is India's main growing region, producing nearly 55 percent of the country's enormous tea crop. Overall, accounts for 31 percent of global tea production. But a gradual rise in Assam's temperatures, changes in and a dip in tea production have plantation owners scared.

The area in northern India is the source of some of the finest black and British-style teas. Assam teas are notable for their heartiness, strength and body, and are often sold as "breakfast" teas.

Rajib Barooah, a tea planter in Jorhat, Assam's main tea growing district, called the changes "worrisome developments," and said they had weakened the potent taste of Assam tea. "We are indeed concerned," he said. "Assam tea's strong flavor is its hallmark."

The numbers are stark. Assam produced 564,000 tons of tea in 2007, slipping to 487,000 tons in 2009. The 2010 crop was estimated to be about 460,000 tons, said Dhiraj Kakaty, who heads the Assam Branch Indian Tea Association, an umbrella group of some 400 tea plantations.

Mridul Hazarika, director of the Tea Research Association, one of the world's largest tea research centers, blames climate change for the dropping numbers.

He said temperatures have risen two degrees in Assam the past eight decades. "We feel this is leading to a shortfall in production," he said Friday.

Scientists at the Tea Research Association are analyzing temperature statistics to determine links between temperature rise, consequent fluctuations in rainfall and their effect on tea yields.

"Days with sunshine were far fewer during the (monsoon) rains this year, leading to a shortfall in production and damp weather unfavorable for tea," Kakaty said.

Dampness also aggravates bug attacks on the tea crop.

"A pest called the tea mosquito bug multiplies in damp and cloudy weather and attacks fresh shoots of the tea bush, preventing the plant's regeneration," Kakaty said.

Restrictions on pesticide use because of environmental concerns have added to the planter's woes.

But even more disturbing for growers is the change in the brew's taste. They want the government to fund scientific studies to examine the flavor fallout from climate change.

"Earlier, we used to get a bright strong cup. Now it's not so," said L.P. Chaliha, a professional tea taster.

Rising temperatures are also affecting other crops. Wheat farmers in northern India report - and scientists confirm - that warmer temperatures in recent years have cut sharply into their grain yield, as the crop matures too quickly.

India has proposed a system for sharing technologies between rich and poor countries designed to start freeing up funding and technologies for poor nations that need help coping with a warmer world. These projects include building barriers against rising seas, shifting crops threatened by drought, building water supply and irrigation systems, and improving health care to deal with diseases.

The U.N. science network foresees temperatures rising by up to 6.4 degrees Celsius (11.5 degrees F) by 2100. NASA reported earlier this month that the January-November 2010 period was the warmest globally in the 131-year record. U.N. experts say countries' current voluntary pledges on emissions cuts will not suffice to keep the temperature rise in check.

Developing countries such as India and China need help moving to low-carbon energy systems, such as solar and wind power, and away from the fossil fuels whose emissions are blamed for global warming.

Last year, industrial countries pledged $30 billion in emergency funds through 2012 to help poor countries prepare for , and promised to raise $100 billion a year starting in 2020. Developing countries say at least half of those funds should go to adaptation measures, and the other half toward helping their economies shift to low-carbon growth.

The U.S. has long refused to join the rest of the industrialized world in the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 adjunct to the climate treaty that mandated modest emissions reductions by richer nations. The Americans complained it would hurt their economy and exempt emerging economies such as China and India.

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User comments : 36

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apex01
3.3 / 5 (19) Dec 31, 2010
Climate change...periodical droughts...periodical cold snowy winters. There's always been climate change. I had to laugh when i read the title of this article.
apex01
3.7 / 5 (12) Dec 31, 2010
oh, and it's not global warming, it's climate change...
Donutz
5 / 5 (9) Dec 31, 2010
I'm impressed by people who can detect subtle taste differences, or identify a wine & vintage by taste. My culinary skills top out at detecting ketchup on KD.
jonnyboy
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 31, 2010
F O
Monkinator
2.3 / 5 (6) Dec 31, 2010
Well, I'm sure that when they add in the temperatures for December 2010, it will no longer be the warmest period...
lexington
3.9 / 5 (8) Dec 31, 2010
How could they possibly pinpoint this as an effect of climate change? There must be thousands of factors that effect the taste of the tea.
Quantum_Conundrum
2.7 / 5 (21) Dec 31, 2010
How could they possibly pinpoint this as an effect of climate change? There must be thousands of factors that effect the taste of the tea.


they can't.

Imagine if you are a foreigner, or a proggressive such as SH, and you want to concoct a scheme to destroy the U.S. without firing a shot.

The best way to do this would be to deceive the U.S. into destroying itself by imposing ridiculous restrictions and sanctions on it's own economy.

The best way to accomplish this is to concoct a conspiracy which takes advantage of the ignorance of the public, and relative lack of qualification for governments in American, whereby people win because they are most popular, not because they are most qualified, etc. Well, you only need to totally convince a small portion of the idiots who don't know better, then you have the support of murderers like SH anyway, and the rest is at best 50/50.

No guns or nukes needed, just get idiots in Washington, etc, to regulate us to death...
Quantum_Conundrum
2.8 / 5 (20) Dec 31, 2010
That's the goal of the AGW movement. It's what the WEather Channel and CNN want. It's what the EU and UN want, it's what any terrorist wants, and it's what many other "rogue nations," who also are on the UN want to have happen.

So any time anything goes wrong, anywhere, just blame it no AGW, and then blame the US for using coal and gasoline.

Keep doing this till you convince enough people in US government to destroy our own nation from within by making everything that works to be illegal.
geokstr
2.6 / 5 (17) Dec 31, 2010
oh, and it's not global warming, it's climate change...

Jeez, are you behind the times. It's no longer "climate change", it's already progressed beyond "global climate disruption" into "climate chaos".

That way, anything at all whatsoever that happens to the climate can be blamed on the evil SUVs. And anything at all whatsoever that happens to anything else whatsoever, like even a subtle and possibly imaginary change in the taste of tea, can simply be judged "BAD" and blamed on "climate chaos".

Some here have said that "whatever it's called this week" is science because they claim it can be falsified. But that's hilarious, because every time something happens, like no warming for the last 15 years or an even warmer time like the Medieval Warm Period is brought up, they either change the computer model to magically account for it or simply deny it out of existence, like Mann did with his phony "hockey stick".
3432682
2.3 / 5 (15) Dec 31, 2010
How many of us would bother to read an article named "Change in Taste of Indian Tea Detected"? Put a bull's-eye on it instead. Bull-something.
sstritt
2.6 / 5 (15) Dec 31, 2010
How many of us would bother to read an article named "Change in Taste of Indian Tea Detected"? Put a bull's-eye on it instead. Bull-something.

Certainly bull****! We must be getting near the end of this farce if this is all they got left!
Justsayin
2.2 / 5 (13) Dec 31, 2010
I bet the tea growers in northeastern India who claim the taste of their tea being altered receive alms from the U.N. or are supported in some way by the world wide climate change consortium.
Jimee
2.3 / 5 (15) Dec 31, 2010
These comments are so sad. The earth is different in different spots. Ignorance about climate doesn't change the facts. Let's keep poisoning our children and their children with oil, coal, and any other toxic chemicals the rich can make money on and foist on the public.
Quantum_Conundrum
2.3 / 5 (15) Dec 31, 2010
Let's keep poisoning our children and their children with oil, coal, and any other toxic chemicals the rich can make money on and foist on the public.


You'd almost have an argument, except the average life expectancy actually goes up by about a year per decade. Nobody is poisoning anyone's children. In fact, infant and child mortality is about the lowest it's ever been (would be much lower if Abortion was rightfully banned,) and those who live beyond 5 yrs old are living longer than ever.

Over the next two decades, advances in automation and manufacturing are going to make the morning and evening commute in America pointless. We'll be spending far less energy on commuting.

Existing economic models will be meaningless as nanotechnology and computers allows almost everything to become automated.

Once we replace the auto union workers with humanoid robots, we'll actually start to get fair prices on new autos, and many people won't even need them at all.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.8 / 5 (12) Dec 31, 2010
I calculate that once we replace the truck drivers with automated systems, transport costs over land drop by over 30 cents per mile, and the automated system will have paid for itself within 3 or 4 months in driver mileage pay savings alone. Companies will be able to charge less and still make a higher profit than they do now. This will also make all materials and finished goods much cheaper. Because fewer people will be on the road anyway because automated systems replace the need for employees in the first place, this will make the robots with their gps, infraread, radar, lidar, etc, sensors, and electronic beacons the safest drivers around.

In general, all production and transport costs will go down because almost no human employees are required, which means no pesky $80/hr wage to an auto worker, and no pay to a truck driver, and no illegals harvesting crops. Everything gets so much cheaper, and people work in engineering jobs only.
Bob_Kob
4 / 5 (10) Dec 31, 2010
I usually enjoy your comments Quantum (even if some are a bit put on) but seriously how do you find the time to do this? EVERY article has at least 3-4 lengthy discussions from you on it.

Everything gets so much cheaper, and people work in engineering jobs only.


Well good news for me. But I severely doubt the feasibility of 7 billion+ engineers.
Howhot
2.8 / 5 (9) Dec 31, 2010
You damn environmental deconstructionalists really are the embodiment of anti-type human beings; Anti-life, pro-slave globalwarmist. Good news for you this new year, things will get worst.

"The best way to do this would be to deceive the U.S. into destroying itself by imposing ridiculous restrictions and sanctions on it's own economy."

And your solution is... ... let me guess' KILL EARTH?
You anti-environmental pollution lovers make us sick. I hope you choke on your love of pollution. You POS.
Suck the air you make, pollution loving slime.
Howhot
2.3 / 5 (10) Dec 31, 2010
Happy New Year! So it's one-two-three, what are we fighting for? Earth is going to burn if the hard boot of Stalin doesn't come down on mankind and put polluters under the global government control system. We will be at your door soon.

Happy New Year.
ECOnservative
2.4 / 5 (8) Jan 01, 2011
Vast conclusions from half-vast data..
mfritz0
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 01, 2011
I'm sure when the price goes up to a level where the workers can keep up with the cost of living, not only the flavor improve but the yearly quantity will return to it's usual amount. This is just a ploy for a raise.
sstritt
1.9 / 5 (8) Jan 01, 2011
Happy New Year! So it's one-two-three, what are we fighting for? Earth is going to burn if the hard boot of Stalin doesn't come down on mankind and put polluters under the global government control system. We will be at your door soon.

Happy New Year.

You just spilled the beans comrade. It never was about saving the planet was it? That's just the ruse to usher in your dream of totalitarian world government to rule over us all. As long as there are still men and women who believe in truth and freedom, you will FAIL.
plaasjaapie
2.5 / 5 (11) Jan 01, 2011
What an utterly ridiculous piece of propaganda, especially the last four paragraphs. :-/

Indian tea has changed in flavour for the worse over the years because most of the tea plantations haven't replanted their tea bushes since independence. You have to replant every 8-15 years depending on variety because older bushes increase in tannin content making the tea bitter for a given brewing time. People unconsciously shorten the brewing time to keep the bitterness under control {avoiding stewing} and the brew becomes weaker and weaker as a result thus losing its flavour.

I am REALLY getting sick and tired of this website accepting every nitwitted attribution of ANYTHING changing as being due to global warming. The editors need to grow a brain.
sstritt
2.2 / 5 (9) Jan 01, 2011
@plaasjaapie
Thanks for sharing your knowledge of tea production. Most of us realized this article was BS but you put the nail in the coffin!
plaasjaapie
2.3 / 5 (9) Jan 01, 2011
@sstritt I spent a lot of time in Sri Lanka during the 1970s and got to know a bit about tea production then. The Sri Lankans, unlike the Indians, kept their British planters, so the details of tea cultivation didn't get lost like they did in India.

I hear the Indians figured out the tannin problem about 3-5 years ago and are starting to replant their Assam and Darjeeling tea plantations with new bushes, finally. I'm really looking forward to tasting the tea from the new bushes in coming years. I remember Darjeeling tea especialy from decades ago was quite good. :-)
Eric_B
1 / 5 (8) Jan 01, 2011
I knew an Indian who drank so much tea, he drowned in his own tee-pee!

Oh, sorry, this article is about dot, not feather...
ted208
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2011
BS Strikes again, PHYSORG.COM is an alarmist website that warms the cockles of my heart, if it's printed here it is definitively B#&#S$%#. Have the editors ever considered the insanity that goes into some of the articles, doesn't it strike you that any genuine scientific report or article is degraded by garbage reporting like this one? I would like to think that a visitor who comes here has a reasonable level of intelligence and is not taken in by this sort of alarmist money grubbing climate disruption crap!
Start publishing some climate information from the skeptics for a change, you might be pleased with the background and level of real science that goes into them, and yes they are peer reviewed.
Ratfish
1 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2011
The tea plant bioaccumulates fluoride like none other and the amount in the leaves has been shown to have increased dramatically over the past few decades due to pollution. In addition to making tea more toxic, I wonder if it has affected the taste as well.
Inflaton
5 / 5 (5) Jan 03, 2011
"then you have the support of murderers like SH"

That's a rather libelous statement Quantum.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (5) Jan 03, 2011
Priceless...just priceless :-)
Inflaton
not rated yet Jan 03, 2011
Assuming you were referring to skeptic heretic qc.
Howhot
3 / 5 (4) Jan 03, 2011
I now have a great appreciation for India's tea. The article is just one more reminder that Global Warming is a 911 environmental call.
Howhot
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 03, 2011
@ted208
"would like to think that a visitor who comes here has a reasonable level of intelligence and is not taken in by this sort of "

WHAT? WHAT? "alarmist money grubbing climate disruption crap!" Alarmist; yeah; money grubbing; hell NO!.

Man-Made Global-Warming really could extinguish earth in a matter of decades if we don't treat it as a 911 environmental emergency.

You are seriously stupid if you don't think this is an environmental emergency.

geokstr
2.3 / 5 (10) Jan 04, 2011
Man-Made Global-Warming really could extinguish earth in a matter of decades if we don't treat it as a 911 environmental emergency.

Bull.

The projections by the IPCC are for a few degrees of warming in the next 100 years.

There have been countless times in the past with warmer temperatures than that, sometimes for tens of millions of years IN A ROW, and which at the same time had CO2 concentrations 5-10 TIMES higher than today. But in every one of those periods, Gaia was lush with life.

Maybe you could point us to those pictures from one of the Venus probes of all the rusted SUVs that caused Venus to hit the "tipping point".
Howhot
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 05, 2011
Bull back at you. "CO2 concentrations 5-10 TIMES" So, your saying 15000ppm to 30000 is a CO2 concentration we can live in? Good luck to you and your kids too.

I speak the truth; Man-Made Global-Warming really could extinguish earth in a matter of decades if we don't treat it as a 911 environmental emergency.

Yeah; and look at how thin the Earth's atmosphere is from the photos of ISS. It's as thin as sheet of silk on a basketball. That friend is what keeps us alive. And you don't care?

Google for "Soilent Green". That is the future you seem to want.
geokstr
2.2 / 5 (10) Jan 05, 2011
"CO2 concentrations 5-10 TIMES" So, your saying 15000ppm to 30000 is a CO2 concentration we can live in? Good luck to you and your kids too.

I'm guessing that math is not one of your specialties. According to wiki (hardly a right-wing source), CO2 is 388 parts per MILLION. That would make 10X just 3,880 parts per MILLION. And yes, I believe that even you and your kids might be able to survive or even thrive under those conditions. Plant life as well would go nuts with joy where CO2 was a whopping .4% of atmospheric gases.
I speak the truth; Man-Made Global-Warming...

Geez, listen to yourself already. You KNOW "the truth", capitalized MMGW; if this doesn't show that this theory is your religion, not science, then I don't know what does.
Google for "Soilent Green".

I'd also guess spelling isn't one of your strong points either.
Skepticus_Rex
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 08, 2011
Bull back at you. "CO2 concentrations 5-10 TIMES" So, your saying 15000ppm to 30000 is a CO2 concentration we can live in? Good luck to you and your kids too....


That is never going to happen, at least by means of man. We cannot burn enough fossil fuels and natural gas to raise levels that high in the atmosphere.

5-10 times of current levels of CO2 would be in the range of between 1948.45 ppm and 3896.9 ppm, both lower than the OSHA maximum safe level of CO2 within enclosed spaces for a period of eight hours, which is 5,000 ppm.

It is very doubtful that we would ever get CO2 levels up that high at current rates of increases. We will run out of fossil fuels long before that time. Earth clears out nearly 50% of everything we emit every 15 years, which partly is why levels have not risen much quicker.

But, earth had higher levels in the ancient past and did just fine. Can we dispense with the pseudoscientific hype for a change?