28/01/2015 2:29 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

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

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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.

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.

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, explains why a lower caffeine content is much more beneficial in your beverage.

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.

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