Diversity among various forms of catechins and its synthesizing enzyme (phenylalanine ammonia lyase) in relation to quality of black tea (Camellia spp.)

Govindasamy Kottur, Selvaraj Venkatesan, Ramasamy Shanmugasundaram Senthil Kumar, Subramanian Murugesan
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2010, 90 (9): 1533-7

BACKGROUND: Quality of tea depends on the cultivar and climatic conditions. Biochemical pathways within the plant and climatic factors can result in noticeable changes in chemical composition, which determine the quality of tea. Black tea quality attributes are influenced by various forms of catechins, namely gallated, non-gallated, dihydroxylated and trihydroxylated catechins and their ratios. Hence the variations in grouped catechins and their synthesizing enzyme in relation to quality of south Indian black tea grown in different seasons and different cultivars were studied.

RESULTS: Gallated, non-gallated, dihydroxylated, trihydroxylated catechins and catechin index were significantly higher in crop shoots harvested during summer. A significant and wide diversity in various forms of catechins was noticed among the cultivars tested. Among the cultivars, UPASI-3 registered the higher amount of various forms of catechins and activity of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), followed by UPASI-9 and UPASI-17 respectively, while the lowest amount was exhibited by 'Assam' seedlings and TRI-2043.

CONCLUSION: Overall quality as evaluated by tea tasters was positively correlated to the cultivars and seasons tested. This positive correlation can be attributed to higher levels of grouped catechins and PAL activity. Thus the contents of various forms of catechins could be the most important quality parameter of the south Indian black teas.

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