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One man’s tea is another’s wine'
- Tocklai’s new brew to debut at international conference in November

Guwahati, July 27: One man’s tea is all set to be brewed into another man’s wine.

If you thought tea is to wine what china is to crystal, clink your glasses to this: the Tocklai Experimental Station is working on a project to coax wine out of tea.

The project is a part of its efforts to diversify and use tea in innovative ways to increase the array of derivatives from the golden leaf, to which the tea tablet and tea cola have already been added.

“We are confident that tea wine, with its anti-oxidant properties, would be a better health drink than wine made from grapes,” Mridul Hazarika, the director of the world’s oldest tea research station, told The Telegraph.

“Even teetotallers will have a good enough reason to hit the bottle because of the wine’s high nutritional value,” Hazarika said.

The director said a similar research had been initiated a couple of years ago by the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, Palampur, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research centre. “It seems nothing came of it. But we are confident that we can do it as we specialise in tea and tea products,” he said.

Tocklai, which will celebrate its centenary year in 2011, has been working on developing diversified products from tea to prevent the continuing depression in the tea market from taking a toll on the industry. “If tea were used in diverse products, there would be equilibrium in supply, which would help in price control,” Hazarika said.

“The tea industry cannot afford to concentrate on a single product if it has to survive the competition in the international market.”

With an extra two parts per million (PPM) of carbon dioxide being pumped into the air every year, global warming is another threat tea bushes have to counter. “We are simply not sure how the tea plant will behave after 20 years in the changing climatic conditions,” he said.

The commerce ministry has given Tocklai the go-ahead to carry on research in this field, for which the station is in constant touch with United Planters’ Association of South India.

A senior scientist at Tocklai said a sample product of tea wine and other derivatives could be ready for demonstration during the International Tea Convention to be held in Guwahati and Jorhat simultaneously in November.

“With many foreign delegates coming to participate in the festival, it would be a good platform to demonstrate the products,” the scientist said.

As tea possesses medicinal properties, the products will have a clear advantage over similar items made from other sources. “Tea prevents coronary heart disease, hypertension, blood sugar and tooth decay,” he said.

Cheers to that!

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