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Tuesday February 24, 2009

Benefits of misai kucing tea

GUESTS at functions organised by the Malacca government are served a local herbal remedy known as MTea which not only illustrates local hospitality but is also a way to good health.

The state’s foreign guests are not only accorded the privilege of sipping MTea but also to take it back to their respective countries as souvenirs.

Declared as the Malacca’s official drink in May 2007, this beverage, which is simi-lar to the ubiquitous teh-o in taste and colour, has a strong following in the state and is easily available on shelves of supermarkets.

What is different about this drink?

It is a tea made solely from the misai kucing herb which has been known for its therapeutic value for generations.

MTea comes in sachets packed commercially with the catch phrase “taste the freshness”, thanks to Melaka Biotechnology Corporation’s efforts in exploiting the therapeutic value of misai kucing.

Easy does it: Worker Jamaluddin Mohammad, 57, (left) showing how to harvest misai kucing at the farm in Malacca recently.

Melaka Herbs and Plants Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Pembangunan Pertanian Melaka Sdn Bhd, is entrusted with planting and supplying misai kucing for the production of MTea.

Its general manager Samsuddin Manaf said the herb was of the lamiaceae family and found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

It grows up to 1.5m and two of the varieties sourced by the company are orthosiphon stamineus (flower is purple) and orthosiphon aristatus (flower is white).

The flower’s long filament was the factor that gave the plant its bizarre Malay name which literally means cat’s whiskers, he said in an interview at a 1.4ha misai kucing farm in the Selandar Permanent Food Production Park in Jasin near here.

Samsuddin noted that the company had also planted misai kucing on a 2.8ha farm in Machap, Alor Gajah.

“We have no problem in sourcing the seedlings as it is supplied by another subsidiary of Melaka Biotechnology – Invitro Tech Sdn Bhd - that produces the seedlings through tissue culture,” he said.

About 80% of the misai kucing is of the orthosiphon aristatus variety that has lots of leaves, while the rest is of the orthosiphon stamineus variety.

It takes three years before the plant is harvested and sent to Melaka Biotechnology for processing into MTea.

Melaka Biotechnology chief executive officer Professor Dr Ramli Hitam said that MTea was made exclusively of misai kucing leaves.

“It has been used for generations to treat circulatory disorders, kidney stones, hypertension and diabetes,” he said.

Therapeutic value: Prof Dr Ramli displaying a box of MTea.

It is also recommended for good kidney function, prevention of urinary tract infections, maintaining optimal liver function and preventing gout.

The leaves have diuretic elements that help eliminate uric acid in the body, a source of many physiological problems.

Melaka Biotechnology has carried out extensive research on misai kucing and MTea is among the end products.

Melaka Biotech Holdings Sdn Bhd, another subsidiary of the corporation, is responsible for marketing MTea while Pemasaran Melaka Sdn Bhd is responsible for distributing it.

“The MTea business is generating income for Melaka Biotech Holdings Sdn Bhd,” he said, adding that the remedy was promoted within and outside the country.

Since its introduction, 40,000 boxes (each containing 20 sachets) have been produced, and the company has set the target of 100,000 boxes by the year end.

“MTea is available at all 40 Mydin outlets and Melaka Sentral kiosks and its distribution network will be widened to Mesra outlets at Petronas stations and 7-Eleven outlets,” said Ramli.

To take a sip of the MTea. just dip a sachet in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes and it will be ready. — Bernama

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