Move over, green tea, because the next big thing in the world of tea is here – Purple Tea. Thanks to its deep purple look, woody aroma, and a plethora of health benefits; is it any wonder that Purple Tea is very much in vogue lately?
So I simply had to write about it, here’s a quick roundup, then we’ll dive into more detail.
But what exactly is purple tea and where does it come from? Like all teas, Purple tea originates from the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant from which we get our familiar black and green tea. The purple color is the result of a unique genetic mutation in the tea plant which stimulates the production of anthocyanin, resulting in purple colored leaves.
Anthocyanin is the same potent antioxidant that is found in blueberries and red grapes.
Not only does anthocyanin, lead to a purple pigmentation, but it also offers a number of health benefits.
Seeing as how the proportion of anthocyanin in Purple tea is higher even than blueberries, (1.5% as compared to 0.1% in blueberries), you can be sure that this concoction of Purple Tea is extremely healthy.
Where Does Purple Tea Come From?
The history of purple tea begins with the first wild mutant plant which was observed at the Assam tea gardens of India.
It was then gifted to the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya (TRFK), in the hopes that this variety of the tea plant would find suitable growing conditions there. Its cultivation began in the early 1980s and finally, as recent as 2011, the seedlings were made commercially available to small scale farmers in Kenya.
Purple tea is a very rare tea variety grown in the Mt. Kenya region, obtained from a new crossbred variety (or cultivar) of the common tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
This amazing new variety of the classic tea plant is a very recent discovery and is found mostly in Kenya. Wild mutations were originally found in small quantities in China.
Purple tea is grown in colder conditions, at an altitude of between 4,500 and 7,500 feet above the sea level, most of it on the Nandi Hills of Kenya.
This high altitude near the equator results in higher levels of ultraviolet exposure. The thinner atmosphere at these elevations means less protection from the solar rays thus allowing the tea plant to sustain harsher sun rays, causing it to produce greater levels of anthocyanins as a defense mechanism. The plant also produces higher levels of polyphenols than other teas, which help protect the plant leaves from damage.
A partnership emerged in Kenya in order to isolate this mutation and produce Purple tea on a larger scale. In total, at least 12 variety of purple tea is being grown throughout the globe today. However, all of them are quite similar when it comes to their genetic makeup and antioxidant profiles.
What Does Purple Tea Taste Like?
Purple tea has a very pleasant, sweet and yet woody flavor. The astringency of purple tea is considerably less than that of green and black tea because of the lower amount of tannin present.
Purple tea itself has a dark color to it, however, its infusion is light, with a slight purplish tint. It tastes very much like green tea, with less astringency, bitterness, and caffeine content. Why not try Purple tea yourself!
Is Purple Tea the Next Big Thing?
Green tea is well known for its health and beauty benefits, but it seems like it’s got serious competition in Purple Tea.
Purple tea is known to have higher antioxidant activity and a greater quantity of other beneficial phytonutrients as well. What gives this plant leaves its distinct reddish-purple shade is the high amount of anthocyanin present which helps fight a wide range of illnesses.
Studies have concluded that purple tea has a free-radical scavenging rate of 51% as compared to 34.3% for green tea. The greater the number of free radicals that get attacked by antioxidants in your body, the less likely you are to get chronic ailments.
Purple tea contains higher and more powerful polyphenols than green or black tea (16.5%, as compared to 10.1% for black tea and 9.1% for green tea), which help scavenge free radicals and are also beneficial for your arteries.
Method of Preparation For Purple Tea
What makes Purple Tea more desirable is it’s scarce availability! It can be difficult to get hold of. So if you can’t get it locally, then you can buy it here – Purple Loose Leaf here.
Like other herbal infusions, it is relatively simple to make and can be enjoyed either as a warm beverage to unwind after a long day or a cold one to beat the scorching summer heat. It is prepared in a manner similar to green or black tea.
- Boil water on a stove and in a cup of water add approximately 2-3 teaspoons of dried purple tea leaves.
- Let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes.
- For a stronger concoction, you can let it boil for 10 minutes.
- Leaving it on the stove will not turn it bitter like other teas.
- You can enjoy it hot, or for a cold breezy drink, you can add crushed ice to it.
- Although very pleasant in taste already, you can add honey or sugar to sweeten the brew according to taste.
Other ingredients like mint, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, and turmeric can also be added in order to complement the infusion for enhanced flavor and additional health benefits.
Health Benefits of Purple Tea
This healthy concoction has been used in Southeast Asian countries for a couple of decades. The purple tea extracts are found to be promising as memory enhancers and calmative agents and are now becoming increasingly famous all around the globe mainly due to the variety of health benefits it offers.
Purple tea leaves are loaded with healthy antioxidants, flavonoids, and peptides which are a considerably promising natural remedy for a wide range of health issues. Extracts from this plant are also used in a number of herbal beauty products because of the effects of the flavonoids it contains, on the skin and hair.
Purple Tea for Skin and Hair
Purple tea extracts are used to treat male pattern baldness and premature greying of hair. Anthocyanin, the key ingredient in the Purple tea plant is known to increase blood circulation in the scalp, thereby strengthening and fortifying the hair follicles.
So you can prepare a purple tea concoction and use it as a hair tonic to rinse your scalp with it. You could see amazing results within 3-5 weeks.
Typically, an ingredient rich in antioxidants is fantastic for hair and skin. Since purple is also packed with vitamins and minerals, it proves to be even more beneficial for preventing the skin from sagging and rejuvenates it.
There are entire ranges of hair and skin-care products with purple tea as their main ingredient. These include purple tea moisturizers, serums, shampoos, toners, and gels to make use of its amazing skin rejuvenating and anti-aging properties.
Anthocyanins scavenge the free radicals in the skin cells preventing them from damage and reducing the appearance of dark spots and fine lines. You can also prepare unsweetened purple tea at home, store it, and incorporate it as a tonic in your daily skincare regime.
Purple Tea for Brain Health
Purple tea extracts have exhibited promising memory-enhancing effects, in addition to a wide range of neurological benefits in animal models. Mice have a blood-brain barrier similar to that of humans. Studies have confirmed that the anthocyanins found in purple tea cross this barrier, reinforcing the antioxidant activity in their brain.
Studies also suggest that the purple tea leaf acts as a source of antioxidants that are very likely to cross into our brain. That is not something you can say for all dietary antioxidants, because the blood-brain barrier is highly selective and filters out many substances from entering.
In stressed amnesic rats, a greater degree of memory retention was observed when they were given extracts of purple tea leaves, thus establishing its neuroprotective properties. This makes purple tea extracts a promising ingredient for medication given to treat patients suffering from amnesia or dementia.
Purple Tea as a Calmative Agent
Purple tea extract can also be used to fight stress and anxiety. Drinking it will help you feel relaxed and will ease your nerves.
Research has shown purple tea extracts to possess mild anxiolytic (antianxiety) and anti-depressive effects. At higher doses the plant extracts are known to be adaptogenic …that is they eliminate all sorts of physical and mental exhaustion, make us less sensitive to external stress and keep our body calm.
Purple Tea has a lower caffeine content when compared to black and green tea, due to which it acts as an excellent calmative agent without increasing one’s blood pressure and heart rate.
Purple Tea for Diabetes
A cup or two taken in between meals will help regulate your blood glucose levels, thus keeping the sugar levels in check. This property is useful for the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus, which is the third-largest cause of death in the modern world.
It is also effective for diabetic patients as it inhibits excess glucose absorption from the food, thus resulting in lower glucose levels. The unique phytochemicals present in this tea help reduce the serum glucose levels and keeps them in check.
Purple Tea for Weight loss
The abnormally high levels of catechins and epigallocatechin galette (EPCG) are responsible for speeding up the metabolism which results in speedy calorie burning, thus helping in weight loss.
A group of people was asked to consume purple tea for research. After 4 weeks, participants had significantly lower body weight, BMI, abdominal fat, and waist size. Their muscle ratio was also elevated, and no side effects were reported.
Another secret weapon found in the purple tea extracts is a special type of polyphenol called GHG. It can decrease fat tissue thickness while increasing lean body mass. Researchers propose that this is caused by the effect of GHG on lipase, the enzyme that breaks down fats in the body.
It also improves the metabolism of liver fat, which helps detoxify the liver. This consequently helps the body lose unwanted fat and other toxins.
And there’s more!
Purple Tea for Inflammation
Purple tea extracts are jam-packed with antioxidants that scavenge free radicals in the body and neutralize them.
The reactive oxygen species are responsible for causing cell damage resulting in chronic external and internal inflammation.
It is known to provide relief to patients suffering from asthma. The abundantly present anthocyanin in purple tea not only reduces inflammation but also fights against a number of chronic diseases. It also possesses anesthetic properties due to which it can act as a painkiller and cure swelling.
Purple Tea Has Antitumor Properties
Anthocyanins present in the extracts can kill tumor cells in their early stages by disrupting their cell membrane integrity and thus destroying them.
So, drinking a cup or two of purple tea daily can help prevent cancer. In 2017, a university in India reported that several different types of anthocyanins extracted from purple tea showed promising apoptosis induction activity in rat brain tumors.
Apoptosis is a healthy process by which old worn out and damaged cells of the body die naturally. Cancer is notorious for evading this process. Purple tea also exhibited immune-boosting potential.
Another study in 2017 from a Kenyan university experimented upon breast cancer models using a mouse cell line and found that the anticancer activity of purple tea was double than that of green tea. Studies have also found stalks of purple tea to be beneficial against colon cancer.
Possible Side Effects of Purple Tea
It is a common misconception that if a product happens to be natural or herbal, it is bound to have no side effects at all.
Although regarded mostly as safe, Purple tea is known to cause nausea and can also upset the stomach leading to diarrhea. Particularly if taken in large quantities. However, these side effects are milder than those caused by green and black tea because of its lower tannin and caffeine content.
Pregnant and lactating mothers should also take it with caution since the effects this tea can have on such women are not well studied. Although purple tea is known to have a number of positive effects on your health, one should not consider it as a substitute for their physician-prescribed medication.
For me, Purple tea certainly seems to rival some of the benefits provided by Green tea, and certainly those from Black Tea. Perhaps, like Blue Tea, all teas have one or two special ingredients that make them better than others in certain aspects.
But, the one aspect here is that not all people like Green tea, it can be an acquired taste. So having an almost sweeter alternative available seems a bonus to me. Here’s that link again if you need to source some Purple Tea.