In Taiwan tea country, a scramble to adapt to extreme weather By Reuters


© Reuters. Tea harvesting employees accumulate tea leaves on a plantation in Jiayi, Taiwan, Could 7, 2021. Workers are paid primarily based on the load of the tea they accumulate, nonetheless, the drought has prompted a lower in progress which impacts the amount of cash they will earn per har


By Ann Wang

MEISHAN/TAOYUAN, Taiwan (Reuters) – Chien Shun-yih appears to be like out over his withering tea fields in Taiwan’s picturesque southern Meishan township and lets out a sigh.

A once-in-a-century drought final yr adopted by torrential rain this yr have decimated his crop and left Taiwan’s tea farmers scrambling to adapt to the acute climate adjustments.

“Local weather is the factor we are able to least management in managing our tea plantation,” the 28-year-old Chien informed Reuters. “We actually do depend on the sky to eat.”

(Open in an exterior browser to see an image bundle on Taiwan’s tea trade.)

Taiwan’s tea output doesn’t come near matching China or India’s, however what it lacks in amount it makes up for in high quality, particularly the excessive mountain premium Oolong selection that Meishan specialises in.

Tea has been grown within the mountains round Meishan for the reason that island was a part of China’s Qing dynasty within the nineteenth century. The trade matured and expanded below Japanese imperial rule from 1895-1945.

Chien, who returned to run the household plantation after his father died of most cancers 4 years in the past, is now engaged on coping methods for excessive climate, together with hacking deep into the undergrowth to search for swimming pools to pipe water to the fields.

Lin Shiou-ruei, a authorities researcher serving to Meishan’s farmers, mentioned one other drawback the acute climate brings is pests that assault the younger tea buds.

“Pests love the dry and the warmth,” she mentioned at her experimental fields in Taoyuan in northern Taiwan. “Beforehand it would not be scorching till round Could to July, however now in April it is already actually scorching.”

Lin is working to teach farmers concerning the pests that proliferate with local weather change, and tips on how to establish and handle them.

Her boss, senior agronomist Tsai Hsien-tsung, mentioned they started monitoring climate adjustments within the tea nation 4 years in the past and have already seen the crop’s flavour alter with the seasons.

“Temperatures are going up, rainfall goes down. There may be much less moisture within the air,” he mentioned. “Tea may be very delicate.”

Nonetheless, whether or not or not what is going on in Taiwan’s tea nation is immediately associated to local weather change stays an space for debate.

Chen Yung-ming, head of the Local weather Change Division at Taiwan’s Nationwide Science and Know-how Centre for Catastrophe Discount, mentioned it was not attainable in charge the drought on local weather change.

“We will solely say that the possibility of steady drought will improve,” he mentioned.

Chien estimates he’ll solely harvest 600 kg (1,300 lb) of tea this yr, half of final yr’s crop, because of the drought and rain, however says he’s decided to not be overwhelmed.

“These bushes are what fed me and introduced me up. In return I wish to strive my finest to take excellent care of them too.”

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