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Purple Leaf Tea on Nandi Hills in Kenya

What is purple and turns pink with Lemon?

One of the most frequent questions we get when new customers look at our tea selection is “What is Purple Tea”. We thought this topic deserves it’s own blog. So, what is purple tea and why should we be drinking it?

Purple Tea is a cultivar of Camellia Sinensis Assamica. Its called Purple Tea because the tea bushes naturally grow leaves that have a purple leaf colour. This is all natural and not a product of genetic modification. The Kenyan Research Institute has been working with this purple cultivar for a while now and small scale Kenyan farmers planted the first seed in 2011.

Purple leaf tea can be turned into white, green, oolong or black tea – just like green leaf tea. We at Tea Rebellion carry a tea that is pure purple leaf tea and that is processed just like a green tea. This means that the leaf is unoxidized and has high level of antioxidants.

Health Benefits

Purple leaf tea is brewed both for taste and health benefits. The infusion is blueish green and the aroma and taste is of sweet plums and fresh greens. The health benefits include are quite surprising. Purple leaf tea has:

  • more antioxidants than green tea
  • less than half the caffeine compared to green tea
  • antioxidants that are called anthocyanin and have been found to lower colesterol, improve immune health and act as a natural anti-inflammatory

Colour change

Purple Leaf Tea with lemon

Purple leaf tea is the only tea that changes colour with lemon. You will probably have noticed that most tea liquor get darker and darker over time. However what happens to Purple tea is quite different. Due to the high level of antioxidant in the tea, the steeped tea changes colour when you add a few drops of lemon. The colour changes to a beautiful light pink. The acidity of the lemon reactions with the anthocyanin ph-indicators in the tea. This is entirely natural.

Now to the economics

Kenya is the THE LARGEST EXPORTER OF TEA. Yes that is a shocking statistic (China and India are consuming more of their tea than Kenya does). Most Kenyan tea is grown commercially on large planations and prices are still governed by auctions (a legacy of the British empire and the focus of one of our prior blog. With the emergency of Purple Leaf tea, Kenya now has a new specialty tea that fetches a better price on the world market. In fact, a recent article in Farmbizafrica claims that growing purple leaf tea is 7 times more profitable than conventional tea varieties.

Our partner

With Tumoi Teas we have found a Kenyan tea partner farm that is fair, farm direct and has chosen a artisanal farming model that benefits Kenyan families. We are thrilled to have met both Boaz and Jamilla at the WTE and look forward to visit Nandi Hills very soon.

ea-Rebellion_Boaz-and-Jamilla-at-the-WTE-2017

Now it’s time to taste! Grab your Purple Leaf Tea (available in pyramid compostable tea bags or loose) and try it out. Taste it first pure and then with a drop of lemon. Let us know your thoughts!

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About the author: Annabel Kalmar founded Tea Rebellion to change the way tea is traded and to connect tea drinkers with tea farmers. She noted that consumers care deeply about the origin of their coffee, but are still in the dark when it comes to their tea. She developed a passion for improving farmers’ market access and incomes while studying agriculture and working in the fields of El Salvador and St. Lucia, harvesting coffee and interviewing farmers. She founded Tea Rebellion to change how tea is traded, marketed and consumed.

Posted in Direct Trade Tea, News
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