“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."
In the heart of Arunachal Pradesh’s East Siang District are wild vegetations of a rare kind of tea. This tea, rich in its health benefits was once believed to be from Kenya.
But in 2015, the Tocklai Tea Research Institute published a paper revealing that this exotic tea, actually originated in India–Assam, to be accurate.
What’s more special about the tea is its colour–purple!
“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,” says Pradip Baruah, who published the paper.
Would this cup of tea, rich in its purple colour and an exotic brew that also has several health benefits, come back to the Indian market?
Although the research paper mentioned Assam to be its place of origin, Manoj Kumar and Pankai Wangtan, who work for the Donyi Polo Tea Estate, had also heard that it grew in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
And so, they started their search.
In fact, their search had begun even before the paper was published!
Speaking to the Indian Express, Kumar said, “Finally, we were fortunate enough to find purple tea growing wild in the East Siang district.”
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The institute specialises in making special, exotic tea. Earlier this year, they sold their special Needle tea for Rs 40,000 at an all-India auction!
And so, once the purple tea was discovered in Arunachal Pradesh, they started processing it for the domestic market. This rich tea was processed exactly like green tea. “That basically means it’s a process devoid of oxidation so as to retain the colour of the leaves,” Kumar told The Telegraph, adding, “It is good for the heart, it fights cancer.”
The plant from which the tea is made contains high levels of a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which makes the tea reddish-purple and releases anti-oxidants which are beneficial to health.
“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,” he told the publication.
On Wednesday, 1.25 kg of this purple tea was sold to Dugar Consumer Products Pvt Ltd based in Guwahati, Assam, at a whopping price of Rs 24,501!
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“My expectations were above Rs 15,000 but didn’t expect Rs 24,501. This shows that buyers and consumers are ready to offer any price for specialty tea. Besides, they are aware of the health benefits of anthocyanin-rich purple tea,” responded Manoj Kumar.
Explaining how the tea will be used, Rishabh Dugar, the proprietor of Dugar Consumer Products, told The Shillong Times, “This lot of purple tea will be divided in two parts. Half of it will be at our tea boutique in Ahmedabad for our customers and the other half would be specially packed for delegates at the Vibrant Gujarat 2019 summit.”
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)