indica News Bureau-
As the world looks to India for a cure of coronavirus, Indian doctors and researchers have shown the benefits of Kangra Tea in lowering symptoms of coronavirus. The tea, as per researchers, lowers the COVID-19 activity better than HIV drugs.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is likely to replace hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) with anti-HIV drugs to improve immunity and possibly reduce viral replication, in the revised protocol. However, the chemicals in Kangra tea could also be effective in boosting immunity as they can block coronavirus activity better than anti-HIV drugs, said Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director, Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), based in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. Dr Kumar has revealed this fact during a webinar organized at IHBT on the occasion of the International Tea Day.
In his lecture, Dr Kumar discussed the benefits of Kangra tea for society and industry, medicinal properties of tea for human health and the technologies developed and transferred by IHBT for combating COVID-19 disease. “Using computer-based models, the scientists screened 65 bioactive chemicals or polyphenols that could bind to a specific viral protein more efficiently than commercially available anti-HIV drugs approved for treating COVID-19 patients. These chemicals might block the activity of the viral protein that helps the virus to thrive inside human cells”, said Dr Kumar.
IHBT, a constituent of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has also produced and supplied the alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing tea extract and natural aromatic oils through its technology partners. The Institute has developed herbal soap with tea extract, natural saponins and without SLES (sodium laureth sulphate), SDS (sodium dodecyl sulphate) and mineral oil. This soap provides anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, cleansing and moisturizing benefits. The soap is being produced and marketed by two companies based in Himachal Pradesh.
“Tea catechins production process which has been transferred to M/s Baijnath Pharmaceuticals, and Ready to Serve Teas and Tea wines which could be game changer for Kangra tea”, added Dr Kumar. Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.
On this occasion, Tea vinegar technology has been transferred to a company based in Dharmshala. Tea vinegar has anti-obesity properties. Also Herbal Green and Black Teas blended with AYUSH-recommended herbs were launched. These products could be very useful for boosting immunity against COVID-19, say IHBT scientists.
The endorsement of Kangra tea as a potential virus killer or fighter comes days after a group of researchers of IIT-Delhi revealed that herb Ashwagandha contains certain bio-actives that interact with SARS-CoV-2 virus in a way that prevents it from multiplying. According to experts, Ashwagandha, which is also popular as an aphrodisiac, has a natural compound called withanone (Wi-N), with the potential to block Covid-19’s enzyme responsible for replication. It is being alleged that Ashwagandha, if used along with an active ingredient of propolis called Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE) can block the replication process of the virus.
What is Kangra Tea?
Kangra tea is a tea from the Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh, India. Both black tea and green tea have been produced in the Kangra Valley since the mid-19th century.
In 2012, the then Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma, laid the foundation stone for the Palampur regional office of the Tea Board of India, marking a significant step towards the re-integration of the Kangra region into the mainstream of the Indian tea industry.
Although Kangra cultivates both black tea and green tea, black tea constitutes around 90 percent of the production. As of May 2015, there tea gardens in hectares of land between Dharamsala, Shahpur, Palampur, Baijnath and Jogindernagar.
Kangra tea is known for its unique color and flavor. Flavour is indeed the unique selling proposition of Kangra tea. The Chinese hybrid variety grown here produces a very pale liquor, which is the reason why Kangra does not produce any CTC (crushed, turned, curled) tea—the staple tea of India. Most Kangra teas boast a green, vegetal aroma that follows through in the taste, along with a subtle pungency that is quite understated and pleasant.
Today, there are around 6,000 tea gardens in Kangra. Nearly all of them produce the orthodox black tea. But estates like Mann Tea Estate of the Dharamsala Tea Company have expanded to produce limited quantities of exception handrolled oolong tea and silver needle white tea, while estates like Wah produce high quality green teas as well. In 2005, Kangra tea was accorded the GI status.