The findings show that major antioxidant compounds that determine tea health properties and flavour, including epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate, epicatechin gallate, gallocatechin gallate, catechin and gallic acid, fell up to 50% in an area of southwest China during an extreme monsoon, while other compounds increased.
Household income from the sales of tea grown during the extreme monsoon also dropped by up to 50%. The researchers said that extrapolating findings from this study with climate scenarios suggests that tea farmers will face increased variability in their livelihoods with the increased prevalence and intensity of extreme droughts and heavy rains associated with climate change.
The study has compelling implications not only for tea, but also for all other food and medicinal plants for which changes in weather patterns can alter flavour and nutritional and medicinal properties.
The study was published in PLOS ONE.