Will Kenyan Purple Tea Replace The Green Brew As India's New Health Drink?

28/01/2015 2:29 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] portrait of the woman Tea picker with the big hat near Dibrugarh, Assam, India

Green tea has some serious competition. The rich and healthy purple tea, that originated in India and is available only in Kenya, is now looking to return to its place of birth.

The Tocklai Tea Research Institute revealed that purple tea actually originated from Assam. “The purple tea clone released in Kenya for commercial cultivation in Kenya as TRFK 306 in 2011, is an Assam variety,” says Dr P Baruah, senior advisory officer, from the institute in Assam.

Kenya is the third largest producer of tea after China and India, as well as the leading exporter in the world.

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A popular drink for its health benefits, purple tea, if produced in Assam, could only add to export advantage. The export price of this Kenyan tea is several times higher than the usual black and green teas. Dr Baruah admitted that while the potential of the market is not yet known, the possibility of producing purple tea in Assam has generated tremendous curiosity nationally and internationally.

The anthocyanin-rich purple tea or ‘ox-blood’ as is known, is also found in Assam and wild purple tea was recently discovered in the Karbi Anglong district of the north east state.

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What is so special about purple tea?

Apart from its delightful colour, this type of tea has great health benefits and gives green tea a real run for its money. Purple tea contains anthocyanin, which has many medicinal properties and is particularly known to be beneficial against cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Baruah adds to this by revealing that purple tea’s high antioxidant effects “provide anticancer benefits, and improve vision, cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism.”

Purple tea also sports much lower caffeine content than black or green tea. So if you’re relishing the hit from your daily cuppa, Livestrong.com explains why a lower caffeine content is much more beneficial in your beverage.

purpletea

Sweet, and woodsy, purple tea has a stronger flavour than other traditional chais, which can appeal to the strong Indian palette. Its taste is also influenced by its ability to be brewed at different temperatures and times. Eventually it might not be your cup of tea, but the Tocklai Tocklai Tea Research Institute is confident it’s worth a one-time try.

If you're a tea fanatic, here are a few things about your favourite beverage that might shock you.

  • Myth: Adding milk to your tea will decrease its health benefits. This report shows findings from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that says roughly the same amount of catechins (antioxidants linked with a reduced risk of some cancers) were absorbed from milk-tinged tea as from plain black tea.
  • Myth: Tea dehydrates you. Shocker: Tea contains water! So, it counts towards those eight glasses of water you're so carefully downing every day."Caffeinated beverages do not dehydrate you when consumed in moderation, that is, five cups or less per day of coffee, tea, or cola," says Lawrence Armstrong, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut and author of Performing in Extreme Environments in a report by Women's Health .
  • Myth: Tea helps fight cancer. Only if you belong to the rodent family: According to the Chicago Tribune, studies show tea has a powerful cancer-fighting effect in rodents, said nutrition professor Jeffrey Blumberg, who runs the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University. For humans, the data are less clear. That said, tea can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Myth: Tea is bad for your teeth. A recent study proves that tea has as much effect on your teeth as plain water- basically nothing. The study also says: "as a natural source of fluoride, tea renders the tooth enamel resistant to acid. In addition, tannins in tea appear to inhibit salivary amylase (an enzyme in saliva) from breaking down dietary starches into sugars in the mouth. The presence of simple sugars is essential for the action of the bacteria in the mouth that cause dental caries. The authors also highlight literature suggesting that tea polyphenols and tannin inhibit the development of dental caries.”
  • Myth: Green tea's a superior winner over black tea. If you're really that big on colour, try purple tea. But, the Telegraph published an article that found there's not that's there a bit of an exagerration when it comes to comparing green tea's benefits to black. "Many people believe green tea is vastly superior to black tea, which isn't true," says Lynne Garton, a nutritionist who advises the UK Tea Council. "Both types contain similar amounts of caffeine and flavonoids."

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