There are some naturally occurring genetic differences in our basic Camellia sinensis plant that are caused by environment (terroir) and also by genetic mutations in the plant’s chemical structure. Purple tea is one of these mutations that allow the plant to develop higher levels of the antioxidant, anthocyanin, that give the stems and leaves a reddish-purple appearance and also color the brewed liquor accordingly. The origin is debatable – between China, India and Africa. But we know that Chinese researchers were publishing studies on it’s health benefits in the 1980’s. Since then, the potential for this tea has inspired development, new production profiles and new marketing campaigns. Like our appreciation for the health benefits of dark blueberries and other dark red and blue fruits and vegetables, this leaf is of interest to those who drink tea primarily for health reasons.

What about the flavor?

“What’s the healthiest tea?” we are frequently asked. And some of my fellow tea educators will answer that it is, “… the one you drink the most.” In other words, flavor really matters.The value of enriched antioxidants is one thing. But what does the brewed taste like in your cup? In the case of this tea, the flavor has not been its most prominent feature. But one reason for that could be the simple fact that its still rather new to come into common public usage. Another factor is that most Purple Tea available in distribution has been processed as a green tea and tends toward astringency.