Blues and purples have been getting a lot of attention in food lately, with many of these foods being high in antioxidants and earning the title “superfood.”
Ryan Florio of Parma, Ohio, has found his own space in this market with the introduction of purple corn tea.
Florio was traveling in Peru in the Andes Mountains three years ago when he was first given this ruby-colored beverage. Called chica morada or “purple drink” he became intrigued by the possibilities. Ohio State University food scientist Monica Giusti told cleveland.com that purple corn is actually higher in antioxidants that blueberries.
Inca Tea started with the traditional recipe that is used in Peru, importing the purple corn or maíz morado to the U.S. and blending it with tropical flavors like pineapple and quince and spices that included cinnamon and cloves. The corn itself is slightly sweet and a purple color so dark it almost looks black. (The Splendid Table offered a recipe here.) He then began to create other versions, combining it with black tea as well as peach and mango and has plans for a chamomile and green tea version. He named his company Inca Tea as a tribute to origin.
The company began operations in Florio’s parents’ house, while he sold product at farmers markets and local shops. He has now moved the operation to Westlake and has placed the product in 300 stores. Florio also runs a cafe at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and offers a monthly auto ship option for regular customers. He expects to open a new cafe in Boston at Logan Airport in September.