Chai kahlia, a traditional Indian chai made from leaves, has long been popular in Kerala.
But it has recently become a cause celebre among some Muslims in Kerala who say that the leafy greens, often associated with the country’s Hindu god Shiva, contain an unhealthy substance that can cause liver damage.
Kerala’s Health Ministry is seeking to counter this claim by issuing warnings about the poisonous leafy green tea.
The leafy Greens in Kerala have been blamed for increasing the incidence of liver disease and cirrhosis in Muslim communities in the state, said Dr Abhishek Jha, a member of Kerala’s health advisory council.
He said a survey conducted in 2014 by the health ministry revealed that nearly a third of Muslims in the country consumed at least one cup of chai a day, compared to only a third in Kerala where tea is consumed as a condiment.
He blamed the increase in consumption on a recent spike in consumption of the leaf by Muslims in urban areas.
“This is also due to the increasing popularity of chia seeds and kaffir lime.
It is the reason why there has been a jump in consumption in Muslim households,” Dr Jha said.
In the state capital, Ernakulam, a majority of people are drinking green chai instead of traditional Indian teas.
“We are very worried.
The leafy Green is very harmful.
The liver damage and the liver disease can be fatal,” said an unidentified man in a coffee shop in the Ernakula area.”
A lot of people drink it as a drink.
It can be dangerous,” said another man.
“You need to be careful because if you are drinking this leafy tea, it could cause a heart attack,” said a woman.
“It can be poisonous, too,” said her husband.
Dr Jha has been researching the health hazards associated with chai leaves since 2008.
“Chai is made from roots of the tea plant and these roots contain poisonous compounds.
It also contains calcium and iron which is poisonous,” he said.
“Many of these compounds are present in the leaf,” he added.
“If you drink this tea, you could potentially have a heart or kidney problem,” he warned.
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