California: The State That Really Grows It All—Even Tea
By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor
New opportunities for California Farmers are on the rise. Jeff Dahlberg, director of the Kearney Ag Research and Extension Center in Parlier, recently gave California Ag Today insight into a new project on growing tea in the state.
“The folks up at Davis have been able to propagate enough tea to get us at least half an acre or a bit more planted, so we’re trying to get that planted this fall,” he explained.
However, this isn’t the first time the idea of growing tea has been introduced to California. In fact, Dahlberg noted that Richard Nixon actually traveled to China to look into bringing it back to the states. Although the idea didn’t progress much further, plants were saved, and the project is being brought back to life.
Dahlberg said that tea has a lot of potential as a high-value specialty crop for those looking to grow it.
“There are a lot of really, really interesting things coming down,” he promised.
As the weather starts to get colder in California, nothing sounds better than a cup of warm tea on a chilly day. When reaching for what might be your favorite winter drink, Jeff Dahlberg, director of the Kearney Ag Research and Extension Center, urges you to think about the rich history behind it.
Dahlberg explained that, “Americans have been drinking tea for a long time. Back in the 1700s, as I understand it, there used to be tea shops everywhere in the U.S.”
He further emphasized the importance of truly educating yourself on the drink, which will only add to your ability to select the teas that best suit your pallet.
Even better, Dalhberg believes that first-class teas can be grown right here in California—an opportunity that the Global Tea Initiative in Davis is already looking into.
“Bottom line, we can actually grow pretty high-quality, high-yielding teas here in the state, and the folks at Davis are really excited about that,” he said.
Researchers at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier are testing whether or not tea can be grown in California. California Ag Today recently spoke with Jeff Dahlberg, director of the center. He told us about the Global Tea Initiative at UC Davis. The Global Tea Initiative looks to explore the history and cultural importance of tea.
“There’s lots of excitement about it, and people are really starting to take to the initiative,” said Dahlberg. “People are starting to look at the Global Tea Initiative as a leader for research in the U.S.
Dahlberg believes that the support exists because of the wide variety of diverse crops in California.
We grow 400 different crops in the state because California is one of the few places in the world that has that kind of diversity.
“I think it’s going to offer some unique opportunities to some farmers who really would like to diversify and perhaps get into something that may be really unique,” Dahlberg said.
Katharine Burnett is a professor of Chinese Art History and Asian Art History at UC Davis. She spoke with California Ag Today recently about the Global Tea Initiative; a group focused on the culture and science of Tea through research outreach and teaching.
“The role of the Institute will be to tell the story of tea and all its dimensions, it will be to encourage research and to encourage interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research along with teaching,” she said.
The Global Tea Initiative wants to develop a curriculum for undergrads and grads. They plan on developing international partnerships as a research institution.
“We want to be the … institution that can help the researcher, scholar, industry member, and community member to be able to access evidence-based knowledge about tea and to help the consumer and industry better understand what it is and what it can do for us,” Burnett said.
The Global Tea Initiative is the first of its kind.
“Other institutions study their national product or their local product either from the perspective of science or from culture, but they don’t bring science and culture together and they do not study from a global perspective,” Burnett explained.
California does not have very much tea production. UC Davis hopes to be a neutral site that can be trusted by the industry, farmers, and scholars.
Katharine Burnett Pursuing All Things Tea at UC Davis
By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor
Katharine Burnett wears many academic hats at UC Davis: associate professor and co-chair of the Department of Art and Art History; director, East Asian Studies Program; and founding faculty director, Global Tea Initiative for the Study of Tea Culture and Science. In this last endeavor, Burnett is spearheading UC Davis’s global, intellectual and cultural exploration of tea, including hosting its annual tea symposium and researching the possibility of growing tea here in California.
“We started in 2012 as an idea and a research cluster called ‘All Things Tea,’ ” Burnett said. “After a couple years of working and pushing forward with support from the community, we broached the topic of an initiative to the Ralph Hexter, UC Davis provost and executive vice chancellor. The Provost gave us his blessing and said, ‘Make it blossom.’”
“And, so our initiative was born,” Burnett explained. “The recent 2018 Global Tea Initiative Symposium, the program’s third symposium, commemorates our third year of being an initiative. We are gradually transitioning from an initiative into an actual institute.”
Burnett foresees the institute’s role as, “to tell the story of tea and all its dimensions. It will encourage tea research in any discipline, any field, any approach, including both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and teaching. We want to develop a curriculum for our undergraduates and graduate students and also develop international partnerships so that we can conduct faculty and student exchanges.”
To hear Katharine Burnett tell the story of the Tea Initiative at UC Davis click here: goo.gl/bf7svf