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  • Writer's pictureRayki Goh, MSc

How Climate Change Brews Trouble for Global Tea

As global warming threatens the ancient art of tea cultivation, diminishing its rich flavours and jeopardising its existence, we sought to understand the implications and explore innovative solutions. Did you know the tea industry's survival hinges on our response to climate change?

Climate Change Brews Trouble for Global Tea

Dear Food People,

 

There exists a certain unparalleled artistry in a pot of tea brewed from meticulously selected, aged tea leaves, served in a delicate, tiny cup that is quintessentially Chinese. This practice, steeped in centuries of tradition, transcends mere refreshment to become a profound ritual, embodying the essence of Chinese philosophy and aesthetics. The deliberate preparation and serene enjoyment of the tea reflect a harmony with nature and a deep appreciation for the subtleties of flavour and aroma, making it not just a beverage, but a cherished moment of tranquillity and cultural connection.

 

However, when this art form is laid side by side with the climate crisis, it transcends the cozy ritual of tea-drinking into a sobering reality. The bad news is, climate change is wreaking havoc on tea cultivation across the globe, threatening not just the quality and flavour profile of the tea leaves but also the very existence of this ancient tradition. From altering rainfall patterns and increasing pests to shifting the geographical regions where tea can thrive, climate change poses serious challenges for tea lovers and producers alike. We're about to spill the tea on all of it, shedding light on how this crisis is disrupting our beloved ritual and what it might mean for the future of tea.

 

Soaring temperatures and relentless droughts have been merciless, wreaking havoc on our tea crops with a severity that spares no mercy. This devastation is far from the picturesque, serene tea plantations often captured in glossy photographs and shared as a typical instagramable moment. Instead, what we're faced with is the harsh reality of climate change—a stark contrast to the lush, verdant fields we expect, more akin to a grim 'reality versus expectation' comparison. China, revered as the ultimate tea powerhouse and guardian of this ancient tradition, has been particularly hard hit. Historic tea-producing regions like Zhejiang are witnessing a troubling transformation, with once-thriving crops now withered and desolate. This grave situation serves as a serious reality check for an industry that is deeply rooted in both tradition and commerce.

 

The implications of these changes extend far beyond the immediate economic impact, challenging us to confront the sustainability of centuries-old practices in the face of a rapidly changing climate. Climate change has an extensive impact on the tea industry, with rising temperatures influencing tea quality by increasing polyphenol content, which can make tea taste bitter and reduce market value. This scenario jeopardises not just the favourite tastes of tea fans around the world, but also the very survival of some of the most valued tea-growing locations.

 

However, the response from individuals in the sector demonstrates human resilience and inventiveness. Farmers and scientists are actively looking for solutions to these difficulties. Agroforestry incorporates trees and shrubs into agricultural landscapes, while soil protection technologies reduce the negative consequences of climate change. These measures not only contribute to environmental conservation, but also ensure the long-term viability of tea farming. Regardless of the initial expenditures, investing in these approaches is critical for ensuring the tea industry's long-term viability.

 

On the consumer side, there is an increasing awareness of the environmental and social implications of tea production. This awareness is driving up demand for tea that is ethically sourced and environmentally friendly. Consumers who want to support sustainable practices in the tea business might look to certifications such as Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade. This shift in customer tastes encourages farmers to use more sustainable and responsible farming practices.

 

Tea farmers are also experimenting with different adaptation tactics to climate change. Implementing rainwater collecting and afforestation techniques can help reduce the negative effects of climate change on tea production. These activities not only seek to ensure the future of tea farming, but also contribute to the larger goal of environmental protection. Farmers, scientists, consumers, and producers working together to address the difficulties posed by climate change demonstrate a proactive and hopeful attitude to guaranteeing the tea industry's sustainability.

 

By embracing innovation and sustainability, the tea community is ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy their favourite beverages while also safeguarding the environment. So, there you have it, folks. The tea industry is facing some serious challenges thanks to climate change, but there’s hope on the horizon. Working together, from farmers to consumers, we can ensure that our beloved cup of tea sticks around for generations to come. And hey, if you have any insights or suggestions regarding how we can address environmental or food sustainability concerns, or if there's a specific topic, you'd like us to explore in our next issue, drop us a message at dearfoodpeople.com.

 

 

Further reading:

  1. International Institute for Sustainable Development. (n.d.). Growing Tea Sustainably: Examples from Kenya, India, and Sri Lanka. Available at: https://www.iisd.org/articles/growing-tea-sustainably

  2. Unilever. (2003). SUSTAINABLE TEA. Available at: https://www.unilever.com/files/origin/36207ff71b3746ab511b0e235c4a17eeda3a6516.pdf/es_2003_sustainable_tea_good_agricultural_practice_guidelines_for-small-farmers.pdf

  3. The Tea Crane. (n.d.). Tea Farming Methods and Administration. Available at: https://www.the-tea-crane.com/blog/tea-farming-methods/

  4. Chethan, S., & Vishwanath, B. (2022). Sustainable green tea production through agroecological ... Sustainable Management and Utilization of Natural Resources, 8(3), 431-441. https://doi.org/10.1111/sum.12885

  5. Eco-Cha. (n.d.). Sustainability and Responsible Farming—What Does it Entail? Available at: https://eco-cha.com/blogs/news/sustainable-oolong-tea-farming-practices


 

The information provided in our articles is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The content on our website, including articles, is not meant to endorse or promote any specific medical treatments, products, or procedures. The information provided is based on general knowledge and research at the time of writing. Medical practices and knowledge are constantly evolving, and what may have been accurate at the time of publication may not be current or applicable today.

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