Purpose Tea Founder Chi Nguyen
Kenya, Here I Come!
8,719 miles. 27 hours of travel time. 4 airports. 8-hour time difference. That will be my journey from Dallas to Kenya. This is my second time visiting this beautiful country, its people and the home of Kenyan Purple Tea. I can’t wait!
Back to the Source of our Purple Tea
When I founded Purpose Tea™, I had one mission in mind -- to be a catalyst for good by providing healthy beverages while empowering women in the developing world. In order to bring this mission to life, it’s important for me to be close to the source, where the teas are grown and where these women live and work.
Chi and tea picker
Growing Purple Tea
I’m captivated with the history of Purple Tea. Purple tea is unlike any other type of tea in every aspect from its leaf structure and appearance to manufacturing process. Purple tea is a relatively recent newcomer to the tea market, discovered in the 1980’s and commercialized in the past three years. Since then, Kenya has been developing its own purple tea cultivar. Tea seeds have a high amount of genetic variability so instead, Kenyan Purple Tea is produced using cuttings. This helps ensure that all plants will have the traits necessary to produce purple leaves.
We want our growers to use only the mature purple leaf, thereby ensuring our tea carries all the antioxidant properties of this tea while maintaining a premium flavor and quality.
“We partner with Kenyan purple tea growers that produce the best quality teas and align with our values.”
Making Purple Tea
On this trip, I will be visiting four additional tea factories that process purple tea to taste their teas and understand how they farm their teas. These factories specialize in processing the tea to enhance its healthful qualities. Kenyan Purple Tea is unlike any other type of tea in the manufacturing process. There are between two and seven procedures involved in the processing of fresh tea leaves. A different type of tea can result with the addition or exclusion of any of these stages. Procedures are carried out in climate-controlled facilities to avoid spoilage due to excess moisture and fluctuating temperatures.
The better controlled the process, the better the antioxidant properties of purple tea. Flavonoids, including the anthocyanin malvidin found in purple tea, are the pigments responsible for color. Anthocyanins gives the same purple hue to blueberries, red grapes, and acai berries. Tests show that anthocyanins are highly soluble and yield about twice the antioxidant benefit of vitamin C.
Women Tea Pickers
Although I acknowledge I will never know what it’s like to be in their shoes, it is important for me to understand the challenges female tea pickers have first hand.
“Tea picking is not easy. I remember how sensitive my fingers became when I tried picking tea."
Tea pickers frequently injure their fingers and develop repetitive stress injuries. Women are often unable to pick as much tea as men, and are forced to supplement their wages in order to feed their families.
Although 60 - 80 percent of tea farm workers in Kenya are women, they own significantly less land than their male counterparts. The opportunity to own land is key to financial freedom for female tea pickers. As a purpose-driven brand, I love that we can help make their dreams a reality. Wages as a tea picker is the only thing that some women count on to support their family. It’s a great feeling producing a drink that is super healthy, while helping others on the planet!
“With Purpose Tea, I’m giving consumers a beverage they can truly feel good about.”
Female tea pickers have many complex challenges. It will require a lot of listening and patience on my part to understand what they are actually going through. These women have many other issues to deal with. We need to continually find ways to make tea picking attractive and available at suitable times for women. I believe that traveling to Kenya and being with these women will build trust and show them we value their role in picking the highest quality purple tea for us.
At Purpose Tea, we empower Kenyan tea pickers, many of whom are single mothers, to provide a better life for their families. I truly believe when you invest in a woman, there is a ripple effect of goodness for her, her family and community.
Seed A Future Program
It starts with me and you! We’re meeting this gender inequity challenge with a growth engine that can power itself. We call it the Seed A Future Initiative. It focuses on three things for this community:
- Essential training to help women and men with important skills like financial management and budgeting; nutrition (know how to fuel themselves to be productive); and gender training
- Community support services – Purpose Tea will use proceeds from sales of its tea to help build health clinics in and around these communities. Having access to healthcare and birth control can help these women plan for a better future.
- Access to land. As I mentioned before, land ownership is key to financial freedom. A tea farmer earns 5-6x what she would as a tea picker ($3,200-$3,500 a year), plus she now has access to credit. This income and opportunity gives a tea picker choices she never had before: she can repay her loan, save money to purchase a plot of land, educate her children — and consider the future.
Through Purpose Tea’s Seed A Future Initiative, we empower women with the means to lease and ultimately purchase land, breaking free from the cycle of poverty and improving their life and the lives of those who surround them.
I am excited for the potential to transform the lives and livelihoods of many of these women and families. Purple tea has the potential to generate higher income, offer opportunities to diversify crops, and stimulate competition among producers.
I intend for Purpose Tea to be at the center of the conversation, bringing about positive change in the lives of these women and their families, and to helping build stable, profitable communities.
Ready to Go
Purpose Tea is the real thing, brewed with all natural, simple ingredients, and only lightly sweetened to enhance rather than overwhelm the taste. We are passionate about our Kenyan Purple Tea and the rare variety grown in the Mt. Kenya region.
There’s a new color in the rainbow for tea lovers around the world. Let the journey begin!
Founder & CEO of Purpose Tea™, a beverage company powered by social purpose.