"Discovering Tea in Zamboanga"
By: Adora Rodriguez
Philippine Star
Call it serendipity.


It was less than two decades ago when Leodegario Garcia stumbled across Ceylon  Tea while attending a seminar at the City of Pines. Impressed by its delicate flavor and aromatic taste, he collected half a kilo of the marble-like tea seeds from the Bureau of Plant Industry at the Baguio Experiment Station, and took it home to La Paz, Zamboanga City.

“ I thought since Baguio and La Paz have similarly cool weathers, the tea seeds would thrive and grow abundantly back home.” Garcia said.

He was right. Eighty-five percent of the seeds sprouted  and blossomed after they were planted in potted plastic bags. Soon, seedlings for research purposes were abundant.

With the help of a team experts, Garcia conducted a study on the adaptability and other cultural practices related to the massive production of Ceylon Tea.

Based on their research, Ceylon Tea could be propagated thru marcotting  and can be produced on a massive scale.

Garcia added that applying a mixture of organic and inorganic fertilizer with high nitrogen content would induce leaf formation enabling the plant to produce more.

“Its also good to regularly trim it to allow the branches and leaves to multiply,” he added.

The study also shows that when planted at a distance of one meter along the contours of upland farmlands, the plants can prevent soil erosion.

As such, Garcia recommended that a project on the massive production of Ceylon Tea be undertaken by the government with the private entrepreneurs as partners.

“Sadly, our proposal was disapproved due to lack of funds,”  he said.

Aside from this, there was also difficulty in the availability of planting materials, a good marketing scheme as well as processing machines.