We know at least five different kinds of tea that based their names from color. Those are red tea, black tea, green tea, white tea, and yellow tea. But don’t you know that, black tea, red tea, white tea, and even green tea are actually can be harvested from just a single tree.
Even though the name is different, but basically those teas mentioned above are just the result of different processing. However, in this article we are going to talk about a different kind of ‘colorized’ tea.
Yes, Tea ‘colorization’ doesn’t stop there, there is another variety of tea that not many people know about. Have you ever heard about purple tea? Yes, this variety of tea exists and it is not another gimmick from tea companies.
This kind of tea special is different from other kinds of ‘colorized’ tea, purple tea is not just another result of different processing but a different variety of tea. Here in this article we will talk about what purple tea is.
Purple tea leaves may exist in any variety of tea tree. However, it doesn’t mean that every tree will produce the purple leaves. The reason is because there are so many factors it requires for a tree to grow purple leaves.
To grow purple tea leaves, the trees need specific combination of particular climatic condition, amount of sunshine, and minerals in the water and soil. That’s why in some tea mountains it is pretty common for a tree to grow purple leaves, while in other mountains there are rarely purple leaves grown.
What makes the leaves purple is a component in tea polyphenols called anthocyanin and specific natural pigment. Both of those purple leaf factors usually only appear when the leaves are young and disappear when they get older.
However, not all purple leaves disappear when they get older. With modern technology in tea plantation nowadays, some tea farmers are able to keep the color even when the leaves are maturely grown even though those leaves are less likely to be harvested to make tea.
About the taste, many people told that it is pretty similar to green tea with a slight difference. Purple tea is slightly sweeter in taste, and doesn’t contain that ‘grassy’ taste that green tea have. Again, this condition is backed by the difference in the component in tea polyphenols.
The Places Where Tea Is Purple
We have mentioned above that in some places it is nearly impossible to grow purple tea leaves. However, in some places, there are plenty of it that it is pretty common to find. Like in Azores archipelago of Portugal and Mt. Kenya region, purple leaves are common to find.
Kenya has been developing purple tea cultivar since 1994, since this kind of tea can give them more revenue than regular back tea. But those mentioned above are not the only places where purple tea grows, since China and India also have been known to produce the product as well.
“After decades of research by scientists in Kenya, we believe they have developed a completely new category of tea. Purple tea is unlike any other type of tea in every aspect from its leaf structure and appearance to manufacture process to its distinctive health attributes,” said said International Tea Importers COO Bhavin Shah to World Tea News.
The question is, why is it so common there? For a simple answer, it is because of simple work by nature in the area. While if you want something more specific, it is because both of those area have highly rich volcanic soil with a combination of intense sun rays for such a cool area.
The cool temperature and rich volcanic soil helps tea trees to survive intense sunlight, which usually will make the area too hot and too dry for tea trees to survive. With more intense sunlight, the leaves develop higher anthocyanin compound which make the leaves purple.
Is It The Future?
Anthocyanin compound stays in the leaves even though it is dried, and this is why the tea itself is purple-colored, instead of giving regular brownish-colored tea. With its specific coloring and distinctive taste, purple teas are highly favored by tea lovers.
Climate change affects wide aspects of our lives, even including tea industry. Tea is a highly vulnerable plant, and climate change brings various threat to the plant. Researchers have even made several papers telling us about how climate change can put threats to tea industry.
However, researchers believe that purple tea is better at facing the threats. Not only that, some also believe that purple tea can help us to face climate change better too. The key in this topic is complex balance in chemicals that purple tea contains.
Purple tea is rich of anthocyanin, and researchers said that it means purple tea has higher antioxidant than regular tea. It might be the reason why purple tea responds better to drought, pests, and even freezing temperature.
Purple Tea And Climate Change
Drought, pest, and sudden freezing temperature are all the increasing effects of climate change. Not only that, with higher antioxidant we can get more benefits by drinking it to prepare ourselves for upcoming climate change effects.
Simply said, purple tea has its own weapon for fighting climate change effects, and also the potentials to help us to face it better. This way, purple tea grown in Kenya and Portugal might be the next trend for the rest of the world in the future when climate change has gone more severe.
Such information might be new to some of us, but for tea industry stakeholders, this is not a new thing. The advantages found in purple tea seem to have huge impact in tea industry, not only it is a ‘better’ tea for climate change, it also gives more revenue.
“We are on the brink of something new and exciting in the tea industry. This is arguably the first true innovation in the Camellia Sinensis plant since its inception thousands of years ago,” said Bhavin Shah. So, will it our afternoon tea be purple in the future?