Polyphenols from Honeybush tea (Cyclopia intermedia)

J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jun 18;51(13):3874-9. doi: 10.1021/jf0210730.


The fermented leaves and stems of Cyclopia intermedia are used to brew Honeybush tea, a herbal tea indigenous to South Africa. The plant is also used to manufacture a sweet herbal infusion used for restorative properties such as soothing coughs and alleviating bronchial complaints including tuberculosis, pneumonia, and catarrh. It is claimed to have a low tannin content and no caffeine and contains various antioxidants. Continued investigations into the phenolic content of the leaves and stems of C. intermedia yielded tyrosol and a methoxy analogue, 2-[4-[O-alpha-apiofuranosyl-(1' '-->6')-beta-d-glucopyranosyloxy]phenyl]ethanol, 4-[O-alpha-apiofuranosyl-(1' '-->2')-beta-d-glucopyranosyloxy]benzaldehyde, five glycosylated flavonols, two isoflavones, four flavanones, two isoflavones, and two flavones. Structure elucidation was done by NMR, CD, and MS methods. Because flavonoids are presumed to contribute significantly toward the scavenging effects of active oxygen species, our results indicate that the tentative claimed health-promoting properties may be attributed to the presence of these and other phenolics in C. intermedia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Fabaceae / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flavonols
  • Isoflavones / analysis
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Methanol
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Stems / chemistry
  • Polymers / analysis*
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • South Africa


  • Flavonoids
  • Flavonols
  • Isoflavones
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polymers
  • Methanol