Saving Climate Change’s Latest Victim: The "Champagne of Teas"

Khryss | Published 2017-09-28 04:57

What was once a British outpost now lies a well-known tea industry. At base of the Himalayas, nearly 7,000 feet deep, lingers a musky, floral smell on the town of Darjeeling. Here, they produce what's called "Champagne of teas"--but there's a problem.

"The weather patterns in Darjeeling have changed, topsoil has eroded, rainfall is erratic, landslides are more frequent, and the region has been hit by long, dry spells," Motherboard reported. This threatens the careful ecosystem of our favorite beverage as well as its production.

In fact, because of lower yields and growing global demand, the cost of this year's first harvest increased to 25 percent more than last! (Bonus fact: tea is the second most consumed beverage after water. Yep, not your hipster coffee.)

To make you appreciate more these champagne leaves, here's a brief background. Darjeeling has long been known as one the most delicate and in demand type of teas. Producers don't use any machinery when it is grown and harvested, instead, workers should do all these by hand. Add that up with the fresh air from the terroir of the Himalayas, you'll get the perfect taste.  It's so good that tea entrepreneurs are trying real hard to save it.

The erratic monsoon disrupts the even distribution of the balanced amount of rain throughout the year. This is problematic as the unpredictable rain affects the soil greatly. For instance, intense monsoon rains can wash away topsoil and its nutrients which, in turn, damages the tea itself.

But while we're helpless to fighting the weather, Dr. A.K. Singh, a soil scientist from the Tea Research Association, have some basic measures to saving the Darjeeling: replenishing soil nutrients. That includes "organic farming, mulching or covering the soil during the rainy season, and leaving some slopes uncultivated for forestry," Motherboard reported.

"More and more people want organic tea. And we're happy because it helps us revive all this land as well," Anil Bansal, co-owner of the Ambootia Group, one of the largest organic tea companies in Darjeeling, told Motherboard.

"Is there a reason not to?" D.K. Mishra, manager of the Goomtee Tea Estate, said. "It improves the soil, less money is spent on buying fertilizers, medicines, and it's better for the workers. So it's not really a question anymore."

A move to a much more organic and environment-friendly tea? That sounds like a win-win deal!

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