Kenya Purple Tea

This is Kenya’s latest scientific discovery in tea diversification effort. Purple tea is a novel tea product produced from the tender shoots of pigmented tea clones that were recently developed. These clones have been screened at the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya and discovered to contain pigments called anthocyanins.

These are water soluble plant pigments responsible for the red, blue, purple and magenta colours of many plant leaves, flowers and fruits. Over one hundred anthocyanins have been identified in nature but only six of them are the most abundant namely; cyanidin (red), delphinidin (blue-violet), petunidin (blue-purple), peonidin (rose-red), pelargonidin (orange-red) and malvidin (purple). These anthocyanins differ in their chemical structures.

Kenyan tea clones were found to contain the mentioned anthocyanins with the most abundant being malvidin which is purple in colour and hence the name purple tea. In nature, anthocyanins are found mostly in red grapes, berries, apples, purple cabbage, sweet potatoes, purple cabbage and in flowers like hibiscus. Anthocyanin rich beverages, fruits and vegetables have been shown to have health promoting benefits as well as having a great potential for industrial use as food colorants.

Besides flavor, color is an important attribute of food. Color is appreciated for its intrinsic aesthetic value and is a basis for identification and quality judgment since liking a food is conditioned by its color.

Purple (anthocyanin rich) tea is best processed as green or orthodox teas so as to retain most of the anthocyanins.

Purple teas exhibit potent health benefits. An in vitro study was carried out to determine the potential health benefits of tea anthocyanin extract. The results revealed the potential health benefits of the tea anthocyanins in the normal body cells when consumed therefore demonstrating their cytoprotective properties.

The special attributes of the Purple tea are:-

  • Anthocyanin-rich (purple pigmentation), hence medicinal tea product,
  • Drought, frost, disease and pest resistant
  • High yielding
  • Wide adaptability; suitable for all designated tea growing regions