Purple tea of Kenya is a very rare tea that has sweet notes with a pleasant lingering aroma. For long, health experts and scientists have spoken about the health benefits of consuming tea, especially green tea. Now, the focus seems to have shifted to a new variety bursting with antioxidants.
What's so great about the purple tea? It has been found to have a host of medicinal properties, is rich in anthocyanins and contains lower catechins. Purple tea has low caffeine content and is high in antioxidants that provide anti-cancer benefits, improve vision, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism. The purple colour comes from anthocyanins. These pigments also make the tea more astringent. Purple tea has a more earthy, brisk and rustic flavour than regular black tea. It has a unique thirst quenching quality and is known to reduce the risk of of hypertension and cardiac arrests.
The good news is that India can soon become the second country in the world to produce it. Assam can emerge as the only place in the world after Kenya to become a producer of health-rich purple tea, a senior scientist and tea expert in the Tocklai Tea Research Institute has said. Currently, Kenya is the only country that produces unique purple tea which fetches three to four times the price of black tea and has established both a domestic as well as export market.
Tocklai Tea Research Institute (TTRI)'s senior advisory officer (principal scientist) Pradip Barua said, "Assam has tremendous potential to produce purple tea, as it is the tea of the future as far as health benefits are concerned. Besides, such tea bushes are still found in thestate". The clone TRFK 306/1 for purple tea of Kenya was originally from Assam and wild bushes of the tea have been found in the hilly forested areas of Karbi Anglong district and Longai area of Cachar district in Barak Valley while there was also possibility of its presence in some areas of Upper Assam, he said.
"The germplasm collection at Tocklai has purple tea plants, commonly known as 'ox blood'," Baruah said. "Assam is very rich in tea germplasm as it is the place of original tea variety and wild tea plants are still available in the state'," the author of the book 'The Tea Industry of Assam: Origin and Development'. The planting material for manufacturing purple tea was selected from the germplasm stock of Tea Research Foundation of Kenya and was released as TRFK 306 in 2011 to the planters for commercial cultivation, he said.