The Telegraph
Friday , July 25 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Tocklai to brew more flavours for teatime

- Research institute to release two high-yielding and high-quality varieties later this year

Jorhat, July 24: The cup that cheers just keeps getting better.

Eight years after the last clone was released by the then Tocklai Experimental Station, the premier tea research institute here is readying to give the industry two more varieties — both high yielding and of high quality.

A couple of seed varieties will also be ready for release by the end of the year.

N. Muraleedharan, the director of the Tocklai Tea Research Institute, said both the varieties — one for orthodox tea and the other for CTC — were high-yielding and also yielded better quality tea.

“We are ready with our findings and will release both the varieties to the industry in September,” he said.

The yield per hectare is found to be between 3,500kg and 4,000kg but after five to six years, this could go up.

It would be anything between 15 to 30 per cent more than the popular high-yielding varieties planted now,” he said.

“Those who tasted the two varieties vouchsafed for the better quality of tea produced, especially for the orthodox tea variety,” Muraleedharan added.

The director said till now, all the 31 clones released by the research station had been prefixed with TV (Tocklai Vegetative) and were known as the TV series.

With the release of these two varieties, a new series would be started in consonance with renaming of the institute.

The total number of clones released by Tocklai is now 213. It has also released 14 seed varieties.

Muraleedharan said Tocklai also had the largest germplasm collection, sourced from local and exotic varieties. The institute is evaluating the germplasm, which could be good for green tea production.

Till now, the more than 100-years-old research institute — believed to be the first tea research institute in the world — has since inception released 31 clones in the TV series, 27 clones exclusively for Darjeeling tea and 153 clones in collaboration with different tea estates.

Devajit Borthakur, in-charge of the department of plant physiology and plant breeding, Tocklai Tea Research Institute, said there were two ways of making a clone — selection programme and by hybridisation.

“These two clones were produced by selection. We collect varieties from all over the state and then find out after planting whether they are high yielding or qualitatively better because of the regional conditions which prevail there. After planting here, those that retain all the qualities after successively being planted a number of times, are selected. These are then planted in different tea gardens on a trial basis. If they pass the test they are released to the industry after sufficient number of cuttings and saplings are made,” Borthakur said.

He said TV 31, a quality clone, was last released in 2006, and the new clone for the orthodox tea was found to be much superior to it.