Decaf Tea Found In The Wild

Scientists have identified a naturally decaffeinated tea plant in the mountains of southern China.

AsianScientist (Nov. 19, 2018) – Chinese scientists have discovered a type of tea plant that naturally does not produce caffeine. They published their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In 2017, Americans drank nearly four billion gallons of tea, according to the Tea Association of the US. The association estimates that up to 18 percent of those drinks were decaffeinated. To decaffeinate tea, manufacturers often use supercritical carbon dioxide or hot water treatments. However, these methods can affect the brew’s flavor and destroy compounds that are associated with lowered cholesterol and reduced risk of heart attack or stroke.

In the present study, researchers led by Dr. Chen Liang at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences studied hongyacha, a rare wild tea found in the mountains of southern China. They used high-performance liquid chromatography to analyze hongyacha buds and leaves collected during the growing season.

In addition to finding several potentially health-promoting compounds not found in regular tea, they determined that hongyacha contains virtually no caffeine. Furthermore, they identified a mutation in the gene encoding the enzyme tea caffeine synthase, which is responsible for the lack of caffeine in these tea leaves. The researchers conclude that hongyacha could possibly become a popular drink because of its distinct composition and unique health benefits.

The article can be found at: Jin et al. (2018) Hongyacha, a Naturally Caffeine-Free Tea Plant from Fujian, China.


Source: American Chemical Society.
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