(11/06/19) HAMMOND, La. — LSU AgCenter scientists and agents have begun a series of workshops to help develop the tea industry in Louisiana.
With collaborations among AgCenter faculty, extension agents and tea growers, two recent workshops focused on growing the tea plant and processing tea leaves. The program is designed for prospective specialty growers who are considering commercial production of tea as a new adventure, said AgCenter horticulture researcher Yan Chen.
“About 28 prospective growers attended the October processing workshop at the AgCenter Hammond Research Station. Many also attended a tea production workshop at City Park in New Orleans in August,” she said.
Both workshops were part of a research and extension project funded by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Specialty Crop program, with the aim of developing tea as a specialty crop in the state.
During the production workshop, AgCenter researchers Jason Stagg, Jeff Beasley, Kathryn Fontenot and Jeff Kuehny and Chen discussed soil preparation, variety selection, weed management and harvesting leaves.
During the processing workshop, experienced growers demonstrated the basic steps of tea processing, and attendees participated in hands-on activities and made green tea, Chen said.
The attendees also visited the tea field at the Hammond Research Station, where 1,200 tea plants from four geographic regions were planted. They also visited the Fleur de Lis Tea Farm in Amite, the first commercial tea farm in Louisiana, Chen said.
“The purpose of these meetings is to learn first-hand about growing tea under our unique climate and soil conditions,” she said.
The AgCenter tea research team is lining up more exciting learning opportunities for spring 2020, and the U.S. League of Tea Growers, a grower association for continental commercial tea growers, will have their annual business meeting and field tour in Hammond in September 2020.
Tea processing workshop attendees listen to experienced tea grower Jason McDonald, from the Great Mississippi Tea Company in Brookhaven, Mississippi, explain the chemical and flavor changes during withering, the first step of tea processing. Photo by Yan Chen/LSU AgCenter
Workshop attendees tour the tea demonstration field at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station and learn about tea bush trimming and harvesting. Photo by Yan Chen/LSU AgCenter
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture