Over the Teacups

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Purple Tea – Kenya Tea Research

Posted on | October 22, 2013 | Comments

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Purple Tea from Kenya

Purple Tea from Kenya

Purple Tea Leaves

The Tea Research Foundation of Kenya has pre-released a purple tea variety in a strategic approach to diversity and add value to the its domestic and international tea markets.

No Longer Just Tea Bag Tea

Kenya is one of the world’s top producers and exporters of tea. Kenya is well-known for its classic tea profile and makes a valuable contribution to the world’s tea sources. About 96% of Kenya’s tea production is exported. Of the 96% exported, most is manufactured for blending and becomes “teabag tea”.

A cup of Kenyan tea has a piquant taste and medium body. Kenyan tea has a distinct bright color and aromatic flavor, thanks to the country’s tropical climate and rich volcanic soils.

On days that I need a pick-me-up or customers ask for a tea for headaches, it is Kenya CTC tea that I recommend above my favorite Assam-Ceylon blend.

For drinkability, it stands well on its own or British-style with milk and sugar.

Purple Tea Joins the Kenya Tea Family

Purple tea joins high quality black, green and orthodox Kenya teas produced for export.  The purple tea clones are pre-released as part of the government’s vision 2030 and Medium-Term Plan 2008-2012 (MTP), targeting new tea products diversification and value addition in order to enhance productivity of teas as well as to boost economic growth in the agricultural sector.

The viability of purple tea as a product is not intended as a fad or fashion. It relates to  anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants with health enhancing properties. Anthocyanins are used as food preservatives in the food industry, health care products and confectionaries. Other properties extracted from the purple tea leaf may be used in an extensive array of products and selected for RTD (ready to drink) and instant teas.

Purple Tea Attributes

Special attributes of purple tea clone TRFK 306/1

  • Anthocyanin-rich (purple pigmentation) – suitable for high value pharmacological tea product
  • Drought, frost, disease and pest resistant
  • Yield potential similar to the high yielding standard check and commercial clone TRFK 31/8
  • Wide adaptability and suitable for all designated tea growing regions
  • Currently undergoing distinctness, uniformity and stability tests (DUS)
  • Earmarked for release soon

Kenya’s Sustainable Agriculture

Tea Map of Kenya

Tea and Forestry Map of Kenya

About 60% of Kenya tea exports are source from small scale tea farms and collectively sold through the KTDA, Kenya Tea Development Authority.

From an October 2013 press release, “Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) jointly with Unilever and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative on October 10, 2013 launched in Murang’a County the second phase of sustainable agriculture aimed at improving the lives of more than 560,000 small scale tea farmers.

The sustainable agricultural project has proved to boost tea production up to 30% in volumes, according to KTDA reports. This means growers are likely to realize high production of green leaf in coming years. The initiative adopts best practices in tea plucking, digging composite pits, pesticide use and protection, bio-diversity, soil management and fertility.”

The remaining 40 percent of Kenyan tea is grown on large, privately-owned farms. The owners of these farms process and then sell their tea through the Mombasa Tea Auction, the second largest tea auction in the world.

Tea Board of Kenya (Use keyword search “purple tea” for two downloadable pdf newsletters that incude more information about purple tea.)

Purple Tea Research Source

Kenya Information Guide (for general information about tea production in Kenya)

Wikipedia (generic information about tea production in Kenya)

About the Author

Jennifer Petersen is a tea enthusiast, Certified Tea Professional, teaches various aspects about tea as a business, and a marketing consultant to the beverage industry. Always fascinated by other people who love tea, she is a life-long student and admirer of those who choose tea as a lifestyle.