Unfermented rooibos tea: quantitative characterization of flavonoids by HPLC-UV and determination of the total antioxidant activity

J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Dec 3;51(25):7472-4. doi: 10.1021/jf0347721.


Unfermented rooibos originates from the leaves and the stems of the indigenous South African plant, Aspalathus linearis, and it has been reported to have a higher content of flavonoids compared to that of fermented rooibos. The HPLC/UV method developed in our laboratory for the analysis of the fermented rooibos was applied to the quantitative characterization of the major flavonoids present in the unfermented rooibos. Main compounds determined were aspalathin (49.92 +/- 0.80 mg/g), isoorientin (3.57 +/- 0.18 mg/g), orientin (2.336 +/- 0. 049 mg/g), and rutin (1.69 +/- 0.14 mg/g), followed in order by isovitexin, vitexin, isoquercitrin and hyperoside, quercetin, luteolin and chrysoeryol. The identity of detected flavonoids was confirmed by comparing their retention times and UV spectra with those of corresponding standards. The total antioxidant activity (TAA) of the tea infusions was measured by the ABTS*+ radical cation decolorization assay. The TAA of unfermented rooibos (0.8 Trolox meq/g) resulted 2-fold higher than that of the fermented rooibos. When compared with different water infusions of Camellia sinensis (green and black tea), this TAA value was about 50% lower.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Aspalathus / chemistry*
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid*
  • Fermentation
  • Flavonoids / analysis*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Plant Stems / chemistry*
  • Tea / chemistry


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Tea