Thanks to the efforts of Royal Tea of Kenya (RTK), Kenyan tea is on the map. Just a short half dozen years ago, high-quality, loose-leaf tea was not the first association tea lovers made when Kenyan tea was mentioned. But that impression has changed – big time. When people ask me what I am drinking, more often than not, my answer is Kenyan tea – these days, RTK’s Mt. Abejares, an orthodox black Kenyan tea.
Earlier this year, RTK made a splash with its Handcrafted Purple Tea, the only company to offer it. Purple tea? Let me explain. It derives its kingly name from the dry leaf’s mixture of black, beige, and forest green colors, which combine to create a purple sheen. A whiff of the tea’s twisted, twig-like dry leaf conjures up a field of ripe artichoke plants, but steep up a pot and the scent changes to that of caramel apples. It’s the perfect tea for fall, when the heat of summer gives way to a chill in the air.
To a large extent, personal taste governs steeping times. I chose to steep RTK’s purple tea for 3.5 minutes in water that had just been brought to the boil. I was generous with the tea-to-water ratio (2 teaspoons of tea to 8 ounces of water). The resulting liquor was a rich amber color with a silky texture on the tongue and no bitterness. Like many fine teas, purple tea holds up well over multiple steepings, imparting varying flavor profiles.
Perhaps surprisingly, purple tea was developed 25 years ago by the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya. Grown on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, between the Rundu and Mukengeria Rivers, purple tea is produced from a clonal varietal of Camellia sinensis with especially high levels of anthocyanidins, which contribute to purple tea’s distinctive color. Initially, the small-scale farmers in Kenya responsible for producing purple tea were reluctant to market it outside of Kenya. But over time, RTK convinced them that tea lovers around the world would rejoice once they sampled the tea and thank them for it. Indeed, that is what happened. In February, Joy Njuguna, RTK’s Founder and Chief Operating Officer, launched the tea during a lecture at the University of Montana in Missoula. Since then, the tea world has been abuzz with talk of this rarest of Kenyan teas.
With fall just around the corner, why not contact RTK to find out how to acquire your very own stash of purple tea?
Photos provided by Royal Tea of Kenya
I had the pleasure of trying purple tea a few years ago at the World Tea Expo and was blown away. I had no doubt that once the public had a taste, it would ignite considerable interest. Kudos to Joy for getting the word out. Who would have thought purple could taste so good!
I am so grateful to know Joy and to share her love and passion for tea and humanitarian outreach on behalf of the people of Kenya.
As a retailer who offers some of the amazing selection offered by RTK, it is my special honor to additionally share the rare Orthodox Purple Hand-Crafted Purple Leaf in partnership with Global Partners through my Tea Around Town page on Facebook. 100% of all tea purchased through that site goes directly to Global Partners as a charitable donation to help develop clean water projects in Kenya! Send me a message though Tea Around Town and for each $20 donation I will send 1oz of this tea directly to you free of shipping.
Thank you so much T Ching for sharing this wonderful tea and project and for featuring Joy and the RTK! We can inspire changes through the love of Tea!
Michelle, thank you for your kind comments. The praise is reserved for the farmers who we have worked with for over two years to produce this incredible tea. This is not the tea introduced at the tea expos. In fact, it is processed very differently and incredibly smooth and non astringent. It is “Handcrafted purple” lovingly hand rolled by the female tea pickers with the hopes of a better life for their children. It is a special tea and the rarest tea in Kenya and may I say Africa.
Royal Tea of Kenya is privileged to be the only company in the world to distribute this tea because of the special relationship we have with these farmers. It is the tea that brought me to tears when I first sampled it because I knew that it would change the way the world perceived Kenyan teas and the people as a whole.
Well said as always Joy. You still deserve thanks for helping to make this vision a reality for so many and for the passion and effort you pour into each relationship and each act to celebrate tea, culture, and the history of the Kenyan People.
Thank you for all you do!
Thank you Shawn for your kind comments, I also want you to know that we appreciate your pictures that were used in this article. Your attention to detail is appreciated. I also want to thank Erika for writing this fabulous article, after sampling the tea she contacted me about writing an article about the tea. We have some few surprises for both of you by way of Kenya and Christmas may come early this year.