Global Climate Change, Ecological Stress, and Tea Production



Tea is the second most consumed beverage worldwide, and the production of tea is of economic importance in over 50 countries. As a woody perennial, tea plants are cultivated in production systems for numerous decades and thus experience the multiple decadal effects of climate change including influences on tea yields and quality. Changes in tea yields and quality can have notable impacts on the livelihoods of laborers and farmers as well as on regional economies more broadly. This chapter provides an overview on the effects of global climate change on tea production. We start with a review on global climate change trends that highlight robust multi-decadal warming and changes in extreme weather events that have increased. This review on climate change trends is followed with a synopsis of the major effects of climate change on agriculture broadly as well as on tea plants more specifically. We provide a review on tea ecophysiology and thresholds followed by a synthesis on the key abiotic and biotic stressors associated with climate change that impact tea plants including carbon dioxide concentrations, temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation, wind, soil conditions and microorganisms, pests, and pathogens. This chapter ends with a discussion on socioeconomic implications of climate change in major tea-producing areas globally in order to highlight the need to better understand tea physiology in the context of climate change. Overall, the scientific literature and news reports highlight that climate change is already impacting tea systems and that expected climate changes can increase the likelihood of severe and irreversible impacts for tea production and associated livelihoods. Evidence-based adaptation and mitigation strategies through a community-based approach are called for toward a more sustainable tea sector.


Abiotic stress Environmental variation Crop thresholds Tea quality Secondary metabolites 



This work was supported by funding from (1) the United States National Science Foundation NSF (Award Numbers CNH BCS-1313775 and NSF RII Track-2 FEC 1632810) and (2) the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (Award Numbers P20GM103474 and 5P20GM1044-17). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the US National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Food and Health Lab, Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems ProgramMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  2. 2.Friedman School of Nutrition and PolicyTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Chinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesTea Research InstituteHangzhouPR China
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  5. 5.College of Life and Environmental SciencesMinzu University of ChinaBeijingChina
  6. 6.Department of BiologyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  7. 7.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  8. 8.Department of ChemistryTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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