Evidence of climate change can now be found in your cup of tea. Tea growers in the Northeastern Indian state of Assam, a region known for its strong, breakfast brews, say climate change is responsible for subtle, yet gravely detrimental changes in tea leaves.
Assam is renowned for its hearty blends of black and British-style teas. The state produces some 55% of India’s tea crop. India, in turn, produces 33% of the world’s tea. Increasing temperatures and subsequently altered rainfalls have changed the potency of tea leaves, decreased crop size, and increased prices.
When 2010 numbers are released, India is expected to have produced only 460,000 tons of tea. This number is down from 487,000 in 2009 and 564,000 in 2007.
The Tea Research Association says that increasing temperatures, fluctuating rains, and fewer days of sun during monsoon seasons have led to weaker brews and provided damp conditions favorable to crop destroying insects.
Three billion Indian people make their living–just above the poverty line–in tea farming and production. To assist these people, India is working with developed (industrialized) nations to share technologies that will help developing nations cope with climate change. Irrigation systems, crop shifting, building barriers to contain sea swells, and improving the healthcare system to better treat disease, are all methods of coping that India will investigate.