tea garden
Tea garden in China. (Photo: Zhong Zhao)

UC Davis Symposium Explores the Future of Tea

A UC Davis symposium will bring tea farmers, industry experts and scholars together Feb. 22-23 to focus on "The Future of Tea: Issues in Sustainability and Preservation."

Symposium topics will include "Yes We Can!: Tea Farming in California" - conversations with experts and tea farmers; "From Soil to Cup" - updates on soil cultivation, management and nutrition; "Sustaining Societies and Preserving Lost Cultures" - case examples from India, Japan, China and Vietnam, then and now; and "On the Ground: Sustainability in International Tea Farms" - innovative approaches in India, Japan and other countries around the world.

International tea consultant Nigel Melican, of England-based Teacraft Ltd., will deliver the keynote address, "Tea in the Future: A Bumpy Ride" on Feb. 22 at 3:35 p.m.

This is the third annual symposium held by the Global Tea Institute for the Study of Tea Culture and Science (GTI), which was launched in 2016 to bring the university's premier research in agriculture, health, science, humanities and social science to bear on the study of tea.

"The Global Tea Initiative is committed to producing research that demonstrates a global perspective," said Katharine Burnett, Initiative founder and associate professor of art history and expert in Chinese art and culture. "GTI supports research - and soon teaching - on tea from anywhere in the world, in any discipline, and with any methodology."

The GTI has many goals. They include fostering research and teaching on campus through national and international partnerships and exchange; developing a curriculum for undergraduates and graduate students; and offering extramural courses for industry specialists and the general public. GTI's vision includes a dedicated building with tearooms and gardens, exhibition space to narrate the story of tea culture and science around the world, meeting and teaching space, a sensory theatre, and more.

Although many research institutes study tea, UC Davis' Global Tea Institute will be the first to comprehensively study tea culture and science.

"Although Camelia sinensis is the primary focus, GTI recognizes that many things are consumed as tea, and are deserving of study," said Burnett. "Also we recognize that many diverse tea cultures exist around the world. We respect this diversity, and believe all are worthy of consideration and study."

The symposium will be held in the university's Conference Center Ballroom, with events scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. All talks are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule and details, visit https://globaltea.ucdavis.edu/events/index.html. Reservations are recommended at Tea2018.eventbrite.com.

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