IHBT is constantly striving to improve the status of Kangra tea. The germplasm established at the tea garden of the Institute has over 200 accessions collected from Assam, Darjeeling, Tamil Nadu, Uttrankhand and Himachal. Regular training programmes and demonstrations organized by the Institute have helped in improving the quality of made tea and greatly revived the interest of tea planters of the region. To popularize tea further, demonstration plots were established in non-traditional areas in Chamba dist. of Himachal Pradesh. Institute played a key role in establishing tea industry in Uttarnchal by extending expertise and supplying planting materials to establish nursery. As a result, Uttaranchal now has about 200 ha prospering tea garden and a well developed tea policy. Breeding programmes have been initiated to develop location specific cultivars for higher yield, better quality, and blister blight resistance . A tea descriptor database taking into consideration the morphological, biochemical and molecular characters have been developed for all the major commercially available tea clones of the country. IHBT has developed suitable technologies for improving the quality parameter of made tea. Technical information generated by the institute helped in seeking Geographical Indications (GI) of Kangra tea. Understanding the flavour marker compound in Knagra orthodox black tea is important to decipher the flavour profile and GC analyses of orthodox Kangra tea, Uttarakhand and south India revealed qualitative difference. The major aroma compound (2,5 dimethly pyrazine and ethyl pyrazine) of Kangra orhodox tea were absent in others. Keeping in view the market demand, value added products like tea concentrates tea wines have been developed. Also, technology has been standardized for conversion of catechin to theaflavin.
Institute has developed a comprehensive pest management strategy and recommended the same to the planters of the region. It has developed a novel protocol for multiresidue analysis using GC and HPLC for 27 pesticides commonly used in India.
Changing global patterns of food production, international trade, technology and public expectations for health have created concern for pesticide residues and heavy metals in food products. It is therefore essential to develop simple analytical methods for these toxicants. Analytical protocols have earlier been developed for organophosphate and organochlorines in tea products and work is in progress to enhance the efficiency of the prevalent analytical techniques. Multiresidue method was developed and validated following ISO17025 guidelines for determination of organochlorines (OCPs), carbofuran and monochrotophos in tea and herbal products using liquid-liquid extraction method and GC.
During winter, tea bushes remain dormant and unproductive. Institute is making effort to understand the associated molecular events in modulating the phenomenon. In this regard key genes related to cell cycle, photosynthesis and chaperonic activity were identified and found to be differentially regulated during winter dormancy as compared to the period of active growth. A study has also been conducted to analyse the regulation of caffeine metabolism during developmental stages and seasonal variation. Institute has successfully cloned all the full length genes associated with catechin biosynthesis for the first time.