Determination of tea components with antioxidant activity

J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jul 16;51(15):4427-35. doi: 10.1021/jf0300801.


Levels of essential elements with antioxidant activity, as well as catechins, gallic acid, and caffeine levels, in a total of 45 samples of different teas commercialized in Spain have been evaluated. Chromium, manganese, selenium, and zinc were determined in the samples mineralized with HNO(3) and V(2)O(5), using ETAAS as the analytical technique. The reliability of the procedure was checked by analysis of a certified reference material. Large variations in the trace element composition of teas were observed. The levels ranged from 50.6 to 371.4 ng/g for Cr, from 76.1 to 987.6 microg/g for Mn, from 48.5 to 114.6 ng/g for Se, and from 56.3 to 78.6 ng/g for Zn. The four major catechins [(-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (-)-epicatechin gallate (ECG), and (-)-epicatechin (EC)], gallic acid (GA), and caffeine were simultaneously determined by a simple and fast HPLC method using a photodiode array detector. In all analyzed samples, EGCG ranged from 1.4 to 103.5 mg/g, EGC from 3.9 to 45.3 mg/g, ECG from 0.2 to 45.6 mg/g, and EC ranged from 0.6 to 21.2 mg/g. These results indicated that green tea has a higher content of catechins than both oolong and fermented teas (red and black teas); the fermentation process during tea manufacturing reduces the levels of catechins significantly. Gallic acid content ranged from 0.039 to 6.7 mg/g; the fermentation process also elevated remarkably gallic acid levels in black teas (mean level of 3.9 +/- 1.5 mg/g). The amount of caffeine in the analyzed samples ranged from 7.5 to 86.6 mg/g, and the lower values were detected in green and oolong teas. This study will be useful for the appraisal of trace elements and antioxidant components in various teas, and it will also be of interest for people who like drinking this beverage.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Caffeine / analysis
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / analysis
  • Chromium / analysis
  • Gallic Acid / analysis
  • Manganese / analysis
  • Selenium / analysis
  • Spain
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Zinc / analysis


  • Antioxidants
  • Tea
  • Chromium
  • Caffeine
  • Manganese
  • Gallic Acid
  • Catechin
  • Selenium
  • gallocatechol
  • Zinc