Health conscious? Try a tea cola

Have your cola and be healthy too! An exotic health drink made from tea extracts by Indian scientists could soon give global cola giants a run for their money.

A team of scientists at the heart of India’s tea industry in Assam said the new soft drink named Tea Cola could win over millions of cola drinkers across the world.

“Unlike many soft drinks, the Tea Cola is made of purely natural tea extracts which have high medicinal properties,” Mridul Hazarika, director of the Tocklai Experimental Station, told IANS.

There are two varieties of the Tea Cola being developed now – one made from extracts of black tea and the other from green tea.

“We have used some permissible additives and sweeteners for taste and we are sure the drink will be an instant hit when it becomes commercially available,” Hazarika said.

“The Tea Cola will surely be palatable and we have taken a lot of care in that aspect.”

The Tocklai Station, located in this tea-growing town in eastern Assam, was set up in 1901 and is currently the world’s biggest facility for tea research.

The Tea Cola is expected to be commercially available in about three to four months and will be priced at nearly half the rate than most popular soft drinks.

“The idea to develop Tea Cola is nothing but value addition to tea so that we can woo people who are moving away from tea towards colas and other synthetic drinks,” the director said.

“It now all depends on how we are able to market the idea of Tea Cola as a health drink at a time when people across the world are becoming increasingly health conscious.”

Tea is acknowledged as a potent antioxidant that fights disease and helps people live longer.

According to researchers, drinking a cup of tea daily could cut the risk of heart attack due to the presence of powerful amounts of natural substances in tea known as flavonoids, a vitamin-like nutrient that make blood cells less prone to clotting.

“There are other medicinal values in tea and according to various researchers it could help in fighting cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, infection, besides impaired immune function,” Hazarika said.

The Tea Cola apart, the same team of scientists has recently hogged international limelight by developing the world’s first pocket teas – a tea pill that can be chewed or sipped and having the same refreshing effect as a steaming hot cup of tea.

The tea pill is ready for marketing and could hit the stands any time now, Hazarika said. Another value addition is the ‘instant flavoured tea’ and ‘tea powder’ – two projects that the team is currently working on.

“Some people like instant tea with some variety and so we are targeting that segment of drinkers,” the director said. “We have also developed a number of natural colours from tea wastes that can be used for confectionaries.”

India is the world’s largest tea producer, with Assam accounting for about 55 percent of the total 825 million kg produced in 2004.

(By Syed Zarir Hussain, Indo-Asian News Service; May 2005)
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