Effect of microbial fermentation on content of statin, GABA, and polyphenols in Pu-Erh tea

J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Oct 17;55(21):8787-92. doi: 10.1021/jf071629p. Epub 2007 Sep 20.


Besides cancer prevention, the hypolipidemic effects of tea have been well studied in animals and humans. Recently, statin has been identified in Pu-erh tea extract. Clinical trials have confirmed that statin decreases the incidence of major coronary and cerebrovascular events and this may be due to its hypolipidemic and antiinflammatory effects. Since a good Pu-erh tea needs longer storage (10 years or more) of fermentation to enhance the flavor and fragrance, we screened microorganisms from two Pu-erh teas, 20 and 25 years old. Species of fungi and bacteria strains that contributed to a good taste of Pu-erh tea were isolated. The effect of fermentation was investigated by inoculating fresh tea leaves with individual strains of isolated microorganisms. Results showed that statin, total polyphenol content, and the scavenging activities of alpha,alpha-diphenyl-beta-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radicals increased during fermentation. Tea leaves inoculated with Streptomyces bacillaris strain R9 had the highest polyphenol content (3.3 mg/100 g) and scavenging ability to DPPH radicals (92%). Streptomyces cinereus strain Y11 was equally good for polyphenol content but yielded the highest amount of statin (1012 ng/g) after 42 days of fermentation. Interestingly, the statin content of fresh tea leaves fermented with strain R9 or Y11 after 180 days was much higher (4- and 8-fold, respectively) than that of the 25-year-old Pu-erh tea (513 ng/g) as measured by the HPLC method. Similarly, these two strains also increased the content of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 5.7- and 4.7-fold in tea fermented for 180 days as compared with the fresh leaves (1270 microg/g) and that were higher than that of the Pu-erh tea (4900 microg/g). Taken together, the present results indicate that tea short-term fermented with S. bacillaris or S. cinereus enhances the color and content of statin, GABA, and polyphenols.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Fermentation*
  • Flavonoids / analysis*
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / analysis*
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Polyphenols
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Time Factors
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis*


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Tea
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid