Kenyan Purple Orthodox Tea
Purple Tea is produced from a very newly developed cultivar of Camellia sinensis that was developed with extra high levels of anthocyanins, which are special antioxidants often attributed with excellent health benefits to humans. Anthocyananins are also responsible for the red, purple and blue in many edible plants, and in this case produces the distinctive reddish-purple of the leaves on the bush.
Royal Purple tea was brought to us by Royal Tea of Kenya, the sole broker/exporter of the specialty teas being produced today by some 562,000 smallhold Kenyan tea farmers. (See our "Background" notes for more about Royal Tea of Kenya and its founder, Joy W'Njuguna.)
Ingredients: Artisan purple tea
Origin: Southern slopes of Mount Kenya, between the Rundu and Mukengeria rivers.
Aside from the impact on health that tea drinkers might expect Purple Tea to provide, it’s quite an interesting new tea from a taste perspective. The tea has flavors and atringencies similar to both black teas and green teas. It’s a fascinating new tea that we suggest experimenting with to find what temperature and steeping time brews it into something that suits your palate.
Tea was first planted in Kenya in 1903 with seeds brought over from the Assam region of India. For 50 years the tea industry consisted primarily of two large British companies and ten private estates in Southwest Kenya in Kericho, Nandi and Sotik. In 1954 with the introduction of the Swynnerton Plan the colonial agricultural policy transitioned Kenyan farmers from subsistence farming to cash crop production, thereby creating thousands of small scale tea farmers. Today large tea estates produce about 40% of Kenya's tea, while smallholders organized under the Kenya Tea Development Authority produce 60%.
Kenya produces tea of exceptional quality, resulting in some of the finest, most flavory teas to be found anywhere on Earth. However, due to the fact that Kenya's tea industry came of age during the 20th century, a decidedly more mechanized age than the 19th century, most Kenyan teas produced both then and now have been CTC production rather than orthodox. CTC processed teas are well suited for use in teabags because they quickly give a dark brew. Unfortunately, with this method of production it is very easy to adulterate a more expensive (and presumably higher quality) CTC tea with inexpensive and generally mild lowland teas of the same process. 95% of the tea produced in Kenya is of this style, however since the year 2000 Kenyan tea farmers have been experimenting with orthodox production.
Until 2011 all Kenyan teas were sold through the Mombasa auction. In 2011 Joy W'Njuguna started a small tea company by the name of Royal Tea of Kenya. Joy is the grandaughter of Arthur Njuguna Komo, one of Kenyas first smallhold farmers and the oldest tea farmer in the world at 113 years old. Royal Tea of Kenya is the sole broker/exporter of the specialty teas being produced today by some 562,000 smallhold Kenyan tea farmers. Royal Purple is one of these teas.
Water Temperature: Boiling*/160 degrees*
Water Quality: Best with Spring Water
Amount of Leaf (per 6 fl oz water): 1 tsp. (2.5 grams)
Steep Time: 4 minutes
Number of Infusions: 1
Using a ceramic teapot with an infuser, place the tea into the infuser. Pour boiling water over the tea as an initial rinsing, then immediately pour out the water. Allow the water to cool to 160 degrees. When it reaches 160 degrees pour the water over the tea in the pot and allow it to steep for 4 minutes.
We highly recommend brewing your tea in a teapot or mug with a removable infuser so that you can remove the leaves at the end of the steeping time. Whole leaf teas of this quality need room to unfurl and expand in the water in order to perform their "magic." However, leaving the tea leaves in the water will result in an over-infused, bitter tea. If you want a stronger cup of tea increase the amount of leaf rather than the steeping time. If you don't have a removable infuser, you can brew the loose leaves directly in the pot. At the end of the steeping time, pour all of the tea into a warm serving pitcher or pot.