February 12, 2001 | Financial Express

Tata Tea to start 500—acre green tea plantation in Kerala

Kochi: The growing health consciousness among Keralites can be gauged by the range of health products entering the market. One among them has been green tea. Recently, Tata Tea announced the starting of its 500-acre green tea plantation in Munnar.Presently green tea is grown in in two plantations of Nilgiris in the South.

Green tea, which has been a favourite drink in China and Japan, is manufactured from fresh, unfermented tea leaves. Unfermented green tea leaves contain larger quantities of catechins and vitamins than black tea.

Tender tea leaves are plucked before the day's sunlight touches them and dried without being fermented. As a result of non-fermentation, anti-oxidants are not lost. For the production of black tea, the leaves are oxidised, destroying many of the polyphenol substances that are thought to have anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. However, these are preserved in green tea.

According to studies, Japanese drink around 15 cups of green tea a day. To Japanese, "tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health. It has an extraordinary power to prolong life". Studies have gone to prove that green tea has a broad efficacy in preventing disease.

According to research done, there are four primary polyphenols in green tea, collectively referred to as catechins. Clinical tests have shown that catechins destroy free radicals and have far reaching curative effects on the entire body. They are powerful anti-oxidants that have been shown in numerous studies to fight viruses, slow aging, and have a beneficial effect on health.

Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from free radicals. They are highly reactive molecules and fragments of molecules that can damage the body at the cellular level, making the body susceptible to cancer, heart disease and many other diseases.Consumption of green tea will have a direct effect on cholesterol levels.

Studies done in Japan have shown that men over 40 who consumed green tea had lowered their cholesterol levels. Green tea also causes carbohydrates to be released slowly, preventing sharp increases in blood-insulin levels. This promotes the burning of fat. Says managing director of Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd PJ Kunachchan, which has been exporting green tea extract to Europe and the US for the last two years that there was a growing awareness in India regarding green tea. And this was what made him venture into green tea extract export which has earned him nearly Rs 3 crore so far.

Being very bitter, green tea is not easily consumable. Hence he has started production of green tea capsules. The non-availability of quality green tea has made him source the product from Sri Lanka. However, with more such plantations coming up in the country, he feels he can source this product from within. Studies have proved that green tea controls high blood pressure, suppresses aging, refreshes the body, deters food poisoning, stops cavities in teeth and fights virus. Also, green tea has the potential 200 times more than Vitamin E, he adds.