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Environment

Zinc Protects Tea From Drought

Metal ion appears to lessen the effects of prolonged periods without water on the quality of tea plants

by Bethany Halford
July 8, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 27

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Tea leaves
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Tea leaves

Served over ice with a slice of lemon or hot with milk and a spoonful of sugar, tea is the world’s most popular beverage, after water. So when droughts hit tea-growing regions, such as India and Africa, prices of this prized potable rise. Now, researchers in India have discovered that zinc can ameliorate the effects of drought on tea plants (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/jf304254z). Hrishikesh Upadhyaya of Karimganj College, along with Biman Kumar Dutta and Sanjib Kumar Panda of Assam University, found that watering Camellia sinensis tea plants with a solution of zinc sulfate followed by a week without water seemed to lessen the harmful effects of the dry spell. Tea plants treated with the zinc solution had greater mass, higher levels of antioxidants, and lower levels of reactive oxygen species after droughtlike conditions as compared with the control group.

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