Tea is the most important beverage crop. It is the dried leave of a bush which is supposed to be indigenous to China. Tea bush is a tropical and sub-tropical plant and thrives well in hot and humid climate. The ideal temperature for its growth is 20°-30° C and temperatures above 35° C and below 10° C are harmful. A well distributed rainfall of 150-300 cm is most suitable for tea bush. Although it requires heavy rainfall, stagnant water is injurious to its roots and it is grown on hill slopes where water drains away quickly. Most tea plantations are found at elevations from 600 to 1800 m. Tea is labour intensive crop and requires cheap and abundant labour, particularly at the time of plucking the tea leaves. It grows well on well drained deep, friable loams and virgin forest soils rich in humus and iron content. Large proportion of phosphorus and potash in the soil gives special flavour.
Producers: China, India, Kenya, Turkey, Vietnam Iran Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Japan.
Coffee is the second most important beverage crop next only to tea. It is indigenous to Abyssinia Plateau (Ethiopia) and it derives its name from the highland district of Kawa where it was initially found. It is grown on tropical hill slopes where the temperature varies from 14° C to 26° C and the rainfall varies from 150 to 300 cm. It is a shade loving plant and is planted along with banana and rubber trees. Like tea, it does not tolerate stagnant water and is grown on the hill slopes at elevation varying from 600 to 1800 m. Fertile well drained soils, rich in iron and potash are most suitable for coffee. However, volcanic soils are also most favoured for coffee plantation.
Producers: Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, India, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Ivory coast, Peru, Guatemala, Venezuela, Uganda, Liberia, Equador, El Salvador, Ghana, Nigeria.
Cocoa tree is a native of the American tropics from where its cultivation spread to other continents. is crop can be used both as a beverage and for manufacturing chocolate. It is obtained from the beans of an evergreen plant which thrives well in the tropical areas. It requires an average temperature of 24° C, with a minimum of 16° C. It grows well in areas receiving 125 cm annual rainfall and 80-90% relative humidity. A long dry spell is injurious to the crop. Cocoa tree must be protected from the direct rays of sun and winds and is often planted along with banana, mango or rubber trees.
Producers: Ivory coast, Indonesia, Ghana, Equador, Brazil, Cameroon, Nigeria, Malaysia, Papua New Guina.
Rubber is obtained from the latex of a number of trees, the most important being Heavea brasitiensis. It was first used for erasing pencil marks and hence the name “rubber”. Today, it is used in a large variety of industries including tubes and tyres. Heavea tree grows well in areas having 20°-25° C or more temperature, 250 cm annual rainfall which should be well distributed throughout the year, gently sloping land to prevent water logging, deep clayey loamy soil and cheap abundant labour for its successful cultivation.
Producers: Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Ivory coast, Phillipines, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Brazil, and Guatemala.