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A New Life for San Joaquin Valley Tea - Food Blog - ANR Blogs

A New Life for San Joaquin Valley Tea - Food Blog - ANR Blogs

Fifty years ago, the company Thomas J. Lipton Inc. funded a study by UC Kearney Agricultural Extension and Extension Center (UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center) the interest of scientists. For 18 years, researchers pampered and persuaded 41 tea clones to determine if plantations of this product could be a lucrative alternative for San Joaquin Valley farmers.

Scientists at that time predicted economic potential for future tea plantations in California, up to $ 25,000. Today, tea represents a $ 3.8 billion industry in the United States and UC Davis recently launched the Global Tea Initiative. Kearney presented reports of his investigations, correspondences and newspaper clippings on the study that was made some time ago about tea to the collection of research and teaching and agricultural reach that extends to the social sciences, health, culture and economics of tea in general. That caught the eye of Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, a chemistry professor at UC Davis, who studies the microorganisms that grow on the soil where tea is grown and its potential impact on the health attributes of "I think there is a microbial exchange that ends in the cup," Gervay-Haague said.

When the tea research program was abandoned in 1981, a researcher clairvoyant already had a handful of the best tea clones planted in the landscape surrounding the buildings of Kearney, where they remain in the form of indescribable shrubs that flower in the fall.

Kearney's director, Jeff Dahlberg, believes that the renewed interest in tea at the center, the increasingly recognized health benefits of tea and tea, growing enthusiasm for locally grown and artisan teas can make this product a lucrative specialized crop for small-scale farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. "This could be something like blueberries," he said. Dahlberg said. "Twenty years ago, people thought they could not be grown in California. But with the research done here in Kearney, there is now a thriving blueberry industry in the San Joaquin Valley and the coast.

That was the same intention that drove Dahlberg's predecessors to support studies on tea in the 1960s and 1970s.

At that time, 41 tea clones were propagated in a Kearney tablet house and then planted on a half-acre parcel. In 1967, UC Cooperative Extension agricultural researcher Karl H. Ingebretsen told the newspaper reporter that the plants came from clones that survived a similar USDA study in the 1880s.

"Most of the imported plants were brought from a crop in South Carolina, where the Lipton company found them 10 years earlier growing wild," Ingebretsen said in 1967.

Kearney's superintendent then, Frank Coddington, said scientists hoped that positive experimentation would lead to varieties of teas suitable for mechanical harvesting and instant tea production, a product that became increasingly popular in those days.

Gervay-Hague plans to rely on the results of Kearney's research using 21st century agricultural production tools.

"I will not repeat the work done in the 1960s, but they did not know about microbiomes or genetics back then, "said the expert. "UC Davis has the capability of three-dimensional images, which I want to use to see plants change. I would like to do DNA testing. "

UC Davis chemistry is seeking funding to build a plant repository that could become the base for California's commercial tea gardens.

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