by Cassandra Vincent
Info sources: Chado Tea Room; Tea Research Institute of Kenya
Ok. So it isn’t exactly new, but Kenyan purple tea is not yet prolific and this was my first taste of it. Apparently this tea is a ‘clone’ that was created as a means to increase tea revenues for the country. This tea has a higher concentration of anthocyanins than average black and green teas, which give its leaves a partial purple cast and of course give the consumer a higher dose of these powerful antioxidants. It is also said to be easier to grow as it is less susceptible to pests and temperature issues.
THE LOOK AND TASTE
I don’t generally ‘review’ teas, per se, because I think everyone’s palate is different and my experience may not match that of others’. Our taste is so affected by our depth of experience, our health, even what we ate that day. Still, as this is a new tea type it seemed a fun idea to share my experience. So, here we go:
I like the hardy feel of the dried leaves, their dark, rich color and the way they curl and twist. They smell very vegetal dry and as I was told are more like green tea in characteristics than black, which I found to be true to my palate.
The scent of the wet leaves reminded me of juicy tomatoes and collard greens.
The suggestion was to brew for 4 minutes at 195 degrees, but I also did a 2 minute and 3 minute steep, because…why not? I did find I preferred the 4 minute steep. At the 2 minute steep I found the tea to taste as it smells – vegetal. It reminded me of mustard greens and bamboo shoots for some reason and there was a faint buttery aspect. There was a bit of a buzz on the tongue too.
At 3 minutes the buzz was greater though the tasted mellowed with less bitterness.
At 4 minutes the vegetal aspect is more refined, sweeter, richer. The buzz on the tongue lessened. Reminded me of a bubbling stream in a forest.
The colour was a pale green gold with minor depth increase with each minute of steep. The nose on the steeped tea was interestingly less than from the dry leaf to me.
I am told the caffeine content is mild with this tea. Also, an interesting chemical note: if lemon is added (or any acidic source) the colour of the tea turns pink to melon colored – depending on how much is added. I was told this is the acid working on the anthocyanins. The acid adds hydrogen to the anthocyanins altering their structure ( yeah, tea gets all science-y and shit) The tea doesn’t necessarily get enhanced flavor-wise by the addition of lemon (tasted like grapefruit to me) but it was a fun fact to play with.
As to multiple steepings I didn't get anything clear on how many it can take. I think it comes down to taste. Thus far I've only done up to 3 and I still experienced enjoyable flavor so it is worth a try.
Many thanks to Chado for hosting the tasting and opening our experience to this new tea!
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