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  India   All India  22 Oct 2018  Purple tea ready to enter Indian market

Purple tea ready to enter Indian market

Published : Oct 22, 2018, 5:36 am IST
Updated : Oct 22, 2018, 5:36 am IST

It is made from plants rich in anthocyanin, which gives it reddish purple colour.

The purple tea is all set to hit auctions for the first time in India
 The purple tea is all set to hit auctions for the first time in India

Guwahati: After black, green, white and yellow, the purple tea is all set to hit auctions for the first time in India. The tea made from plants rich in anthocyanin has been produced by Donyi Polo garden in Arunachal Pradesh. The tea is going to be sold by Contemporary Brokers and is scheduled to make an appearance at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre next week.

It is significant that purple tea was first discovered in Assam, India, and in Yunnan, China, but cultivated experimentally in Sri Lanka, and Japan (where it is known as sunrougue).

The tea is made from plants rich in anthocyanin, which gives the leaves a distinctive reddish purple appearance. Anthocyanin is a type of flavonoid, which is said to have a lot of health benefits because of its antioxidant effects. Purple tea is said to have 15 times more anthocyanin than wild blueberries that is 1.5 per cent compared to 0.1 per cent in blueberries.

The presence of anthocyanin is evident when tea turns pinkish/purple on adding a drop of lemon juice.

The senior manager of Donyi Polo Mr Manoj Kumar said that the purple tea plants were found in a forested area in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh a few years back.

The tea is mild and there is no astringency. It tastes like green tea without grassy and vegetal notes. Around 10,000 purple tea-leaves are required to make a kg of purple tea, he added.

“I was always interested in doing something new in tea so that people know that there are a lot more varieties other than the normal black tea. This is just another attempt,” he said. Donyi Polo has produced black, green, white and yellow tea so far.

The experts say that purple teas have not been subject to extensive human trials that demonstrate the many benefits of green tea. Researchers at the University of California Davis (UC Davis) are contemplating a human trials study on the effects of purple tea.  

Purple tea, which is better known in Kenya, has its roots in Assam. There are now 600,000 small-scale farmers producing tea but only a few hundred are growing purple tea in Kenya. Reproduction is by cuttings since the seeds display high genetic variability. Bushes take three to six years to mature. The high-mountain grown tea tastes best when withered slightly, using processing methods similar to those used in making green tea.

Mr Pradip Baruah, chief advisory officer of Tocklai Tea Research Institute, says in his paper, “Tea Industry of Kenya, its Assam Linkage, Purple Tea and Potential in Assam” that the purple tea produced in Kenya is an offshoot of the original Assam variety of tea. “The original plants of Kenyan tea industry were brought into that country mostly from Assam and the Kenyan tea genetic resources are of Assam origin,” he says. The Kenyan purple tea is rich in medicinal properties.

“India does not produce anthocyanin-rich purple tea similar to Kenya at present but purple-coloured tea plants are reported to be available in Assam and the neighbouring states which could be collected and analysed for these characteristics,” says Mr Baruah.

The experts in tea industry are of view that properly marketed purple blends could proved to be as popular as black teas with the healthy credentials of green.

In general, 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 is less clear. That said, tea can help  reduce risk of heart disease.

Tags: black tea, purple tea