[an animation made from tea leaves]
“Tea Tuesdays: Kenyan Farmers See Green in the Color Purple”
Across the picturesque highlands of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, fields of tea shimmer in shades of emerald, lime and moss under the equatorial sky.
Some of these fields, though, are now darkened with patches of purple. The purple comes from leaves with high levels of anthocyanins, natural pigments that also give cranberries, blueberries and grapes their color.
These purple leaves are Africa’s newest—and most intriguing—tea.
At the moment, they are being made into a handful of different styles. . . .
As pleasing as the unique flavors might be, [purple tea] was never developed for its taste.
Instead, [state-run Tea Research Institute] breeders were most interested in creating “a high-value medicinal tea product.” A number of scientific studies done inside and outside Kenya on purple tea suggest that its anthocyanins may help protect against neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.
“Anthocyanins have capacity to scavenge for free radicals and thus are good antioxidants,” says Stephen Karori Mbuthia, a biochemist at Egerton University, Kenya’s premier agricultural public university, and lead author of a recent study.
Jeff Koehler, Tea Tuesdays, NPR, March 3, 2015