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Chai gets savvy

health-and-fitness Updated: Jun 18, 2007 13:30 IST
Highlight Story

One no longer has to buy a bottle of mineral water or coke when thirsty; instead, get a can of Tea Cola, a proven health drink. And if one is in a hurry but still in the mood for a cup of tea, just pop a tea pill and get refreshed.

Indian scientists who have developed the exotic health drink and the pill from tea extracts are jubilant with the two products hitting markets in Assam soon after being granted provisional patent rights.

"It would be a milestone in the history of tea when these products would be made available in the market for commercial use," said Mridul Hazarika, director of the Tocklai Experimental Station in Assam's Jorhat town.

A four-member team of scientists, headed by Hazarika, developed the two products in 2005 and was waiting for the patent rights before making it commercially available.

"We are expecting to get the final patent rights very soon although we can commercially launch the products even with the provisional order," the scientist said.

The new drink named, Tea Cola, would have two varieties. "We have developed two varieties - one from extracts of black tea and the other from green tea to cater to different palates," Hazarika told IANS.

"The drink is made from pure natural tea extracts having a lot of medicinal properties in them."

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

Apart from tea extracts, Tea Cola contains certain permissible additives and some sweeteners. "The idea to develop Tea Cola is nothing but value addition to tea. The idea is to cut into the bottled mineral water market - a litre of Tea Cola would definitely be cheaper than a bottle of water," Hazarika noted.

The production cost for a litre of Tea Cola is estimated at about Rs10.

The same team of scientists has already hogged international limelight by developing the world's first pocket teas - a tea pill that can be chewed or sucked and having the same refreshing effect like a steaming hot cup of tea.

"The pill is absolutely safe and can be chewed, or placed under the tongue, besides drinking in the conventional manner by dipping the tablet in a cup of hot water," Hazarika said.

"We are sure the tea tablets will refresh and cheer a person up with nearly the same feeling as having a hot cup of brewed tea."

The production cost of a tea pill is 50 paise - the cost could be even cheaper when manufactured in bulk.

"The idea to launch the two products in Assam is mainly to get a feedback from consumers and if required further develop them. Only then do we plan to hit the world market," Hazarika said.

Several big companies from Britain, Australia and Iran have already approached the Tocklai Station for providing them with the technology for commercial sale.

"Right now discussions are on with some local dealers here to market the two products. We are working on the modalities for sharing the revenue based on the total annual turnover," Hazarika said.

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. This is attributed to the presence of natural substances in tea called flavonoids, a vitamin-like nutrient that makes blood cells less prone to clotting.

India is the world's largest tea producer with Assam accounting for about 55 per cent of the total 955 million kg produced in 2006.