OMG, have you guys seen this tea that can change its colour from blue to purple? Well, a friend of CILISOS gave us a box and now we’re mindblown.
First, you gotta steep the tea bag in a cup (use a transparent cup so that you can see the colour) and watch the water turn into blue tea. And then, squeeze in a few drops of lemon or dunk in a lemon slice and watch it change to purple tea! Watch this:
What sorcery is this?!? So, what is this tea and how does it change its colour? It’s not artificial food colouring, btw.
It is made from a pretty Malaysian flower called ‘clitoris’ something
We’re not even kidding! Its scientific name is Clitoria ternatea, from the word ‘clitoris’, apparently because it has the shape of female genitals (let’s not even…). The flower also goes by many names like Asian pigeonwings, bluebellvine, or more commonly, butterfly pea.
This plant comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, although it has been brought to Africa, Australia and America. The local name for it is bunga telang. In Malaysia, the flower is commonly used as natural food colouring. If you’re wondering why it looks so familiar, you would have seen it being used in Nyonya cooking – it’s used to give nasi kerabu and pulut their gorgeous blue tint!
Now back to the colour-changing tea, SevenTeaOne is a Malaysian enterprise founded by Majidah Hashim, that makes this lovely tea and sells them for RM35 per box. It doesn’t only go from blue to purple…it can also turn green and pink! They have:
- Telang Flower Tea
- Mint Telang Tea
- Thai Basil Telang Tea
- Lemon Basil Telang Tea
- Misai Kucing Telang Tea
We tasted the Thai Basil one and it really tastes like basil. It’s also very fragrant, the minute you open the box you can smell it.
Each of the five flavours in their current range have various health benefits, for example, the Telang Flower tea stimulates hair growth and darkens hair, while the Misai Kucing helps flush out kidney stones and cleans the urinary tract. FYI, the butterfly pea flower itself is often used in traditional medicine. It is believed to enhance the memory, has antidepressant, tranquilizing and sedative qualities.
But more importantly, HOWDOZZIT change its colour?? There is a science behind it – the colour changes depending on the pH of whatever it is mixed with! Combined with fuchsia roselle hibiscus, it turns red. With seltzer, it turns a milky gray. With basil, it turns green. And with lemon, well, we all know how that’ll turn out 😉
And the tea is made by people with autistic syndrome disorder and refugees!
SevenTeaOne is not an ordinary tea company, they’re a social enterprise. [P/S: Social enterprises, they do business to improve people’s lives or the environment, rather than just to make money. So as they profit, society profits. Unlike NGOs, they don’t rely on contributions. Instead, they generate the majority of their income through trade.]
When SevenTeaOne was founded six months ago, they reached out to welfare organisations to work with them to manually process and hand pack the teas. Now they have more than 10 people trained to work with them – individuals with autistic spectrum disorder and five women who are UNHCR-registered Chin refugees. (To make it clear, people with autism are able to function like everyone else in society).
“We learned there are three categories for people with autism. There’s the lower functioning order – those who can’t feed themselves, for example. Then there are some who can work with computers and do data entry jobs in offices. We work with the middle range.
They are not fully independent, but they are functional, so their mums bring them around. When we sit down together and process the tea leaves, we hire their mums sekali.” – Majidah
SevenTeaOne works with charity and welfare organisations to ensure that the people who work with them are paid fairly and under conditions that are acceptable by human rights labour standards. For each box SevenTeaOne sells, they give back RM10 to those they have employed. But more importantly, they are giving individuals an opportunity to gain skills and employment.
Today, SevenTeaOne is breaking even and completely self-sustaining. In fact, they’re even looking to scale up the business. They’re now available at 5 outlets – Xplorasi Shop in Petrosains, Copper Restaurant in Menara Shell, Folger Phobia in Bukit Jalil (but this cafe is going to change it’s name, so take note), food truck 2Go Coffee, and very soon they’re launching at Mango Chili in Bangsar South. You’ll also find SevenTeaOne at a lot of events, such as Arts For Grabs.
SevenTeaOne started when Majidah left her corporate job to plant A GARDEN!
In October last year, she quit her job and started gardening. She started with vegetables and flowers first, then she planted herbs. Soon, she grew too much and didn’t know what to do with them.
“I started giving my herbs to my neighbours, my mom, and somehow accidentally turned everyone into urban gardeners. We were all thinking, wouldn’t it be great if they could sell it somewhere and that’s how the idea started.” – Majidah told CILISOS
So how are SevenTeaOne’s teas made? Majidah told us they source fresh herbs and flowers directly from farmers and process them to make soothing herbal infusion teas. They want to be able to motivate people to be greener, so they greener the farmer, the more we buy from them. Everything is 100% natural because they do not use chemicals or preservatives to process their teas.
They also contain no caffeine, so you can drink as many cups as you want before sleeping. In fact, since it’s soothing, it might even help you sleep better! Also, SevenTeaOne doesn’t use artificial colouring, like we mentioned earlier. The tea is naturally bright blue thanks to the clitoris flower.
Meanwhile, anyone looking to partner with SevenTeaOne or invest with them can contact Majidah at [email protected]
Why social enterprises are better for the community than NGOs as a whole…
Mainly social enterprises are better in the long run because they don’t heavily rely on donations or contributions. Instead, their goal is to make a profit to be self-sustaining and at the same time, they help underprivileged or differently-abled individuals gain employment and skills.
With the right amount of support, social enterprises could also be a contributor to the country’s economy. For instance, let’s look at the UK – there are approximately 70,000 social enterprises contributing £18.5 billion to the UK economy and employing almost a million people. In the US, there are an estimated 10 million people employed in social enterprises, with revenues of US$500 billion – about 3.5% of total US gross domestic product (GDP). So, are you a believer now?
There are tons more Malaysian social enterprises which you can find on Google depending on which causes you would like to support. As Bill Drayton (social entrepreneur who was responsible for the rise of the term and named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s 25 Best Leaders) said…
“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” – Bill Drayton
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