The Tea Board of India has flagged a “colourful” impostor threatening to rob tea of its image as a healthy beverage.
The board has launched a campaign to help consumers sift the good teas from the bad, coloured teas available in the market.
“The beneficial value of tea as part of your daily diet is proven and tea is known to fight against several diseases, including heart ailments and cancer,” the Tea Board said, advising consumers to enjoy the taste and flavour of pure tea.
Avoid colour-added tea at any cost, it said while providing tips to identify the harmful brew laced with chemicals yielding the colour of tea.
Colour will not be dispersed when good quality tea is added to cold water. “It is only in hot water that the inherent colour of the tea is dispersed,” the Tea Board’s campaign material said.
On the other hand, colour-added tea changes the colour of cold water into orange-red as soon as it is mixed. This “dangerous” tea also leaves a prominent red stain on a moist cloth or paper and in the palm unlike the good teas, the board said.
According to the Federation of All India Tea Traders’ Association, the menace of adulterated colour-added tea began in Gujarat and spread fast to southern India. “Such teas pose a great health risk but are lucrative for unscrupulous manufacturers and traders,” a spokesperson of the association said.
The North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) had written to Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal in November underlining the need for the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and the Tea Board to take stringent action against people engaged in the business of adulterated tea. Their modus operandi has led to the decrease in consumption of tea besides bringing ill-repute to the fair name of the tea industry, it said.
The NETA also sought a policy making it mandatory for tea packagers to declare the blend percentage of tea according to the region sourced from.
“We are not against blending of teas of different tea-growing regions. But many packet teas are sold in the market as 100% Assam Tea, though, in reality, Assam Tea is blended with teas of other tea-growing regions,” NETA adviser Bidyananda Borkakoty said.
The consumers had a right to be aware of the kind of tea the packets they buy contain, he added.