STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 4, Number 3

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 51 of 69

52 STiR tea & coffee industry international / Issue 3, 2015 (June/July) T By Dr. Markus Heidak Illustration by Dr. Markus Heidak he bedrock upon which the world's tea plantations rest is a varied and vital source of minerals. Geochemical formations, the presence of heavy metals, and the natural depletion of scarce minerals over time are important considerations for growers. While the tea plantations in Sri Lanka and India that were developed during colo- nial times look pretty much the same then as today these plantations are neither antique or outdated pieces of history. To those walking these plantations for the first time, the initial impressions must cause the feeling of travelling back in time. However, these gardens are rather modern examples of agricultural areas in which numerous natural processes and innumerable manmade processes collide and interact with the growing tea plants. To ensure constant tea quality and to increase yields it is essential to understand these hidden processes and how they affect the plantation. Look local Effective management takes into consideration influences on a local scale. These in- clude different types of rocks (e.g. granite, basalt); climatic conditions, various natural aerosols (e.g. Saharan dust, sea spray), human-induced emissions and impacts (e.g. ex- haust fumes, pesticides and fertilizers) as well as socioeconomic changes (e.g. expan- sion of industrial areas). All affect the soils and the growing tea bushes. In 2014, the scientific consultancy Heidelberg Geo Bio Consult (HGBC) was tasked with collecting and analyzing rocks, soils, and tea leaves from several organic certified and non-organic tea plantations for an independent research study. The study was designed so that growers can better understand how parent rocks af- fect the chemical composition of the soils and the cultivated tea. The goal is to develop methods to improve quality and food security. Several dozen representative samples (rocks, soils, tea leaves) were analyzed and in- terpreted using ICP-OES (inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy), and ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) along with detailed analy- sis of soil pH with a strong focus on the natural chemical element cycles. Reading the Leaf How geological conditions underlying gardens affect the chemical composition of tea leaves The chemistry of the leaves reveals much about the plant. Chemical element cycles between underlying rocks, soils and tea plants.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of STiR coffee and tea magazine - Volume 4, Number 3