Polyphenolic chemistry of tea and coffee: a century of progress

J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Sep 23;57(18):8109-14. doi: 10.1021/jf804025c.


Tea and coffee, the most popular beverages in the world, have been consumed for thousands of years for their alluring flavors and health benefits. Polyphenols, particularly flavonoids and phenolic acids, are of great abundance in tea and coffee and contribute a lot to their flavor and health properties. This paper reviews the polyphenol chemistry of tea and coffee, specifically their stability, and scavenging ability of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive carbonyl species (RCS). During the manufacturing and brewing process, green tea and black tea polyphenols undergo epimerization and oxidation, respectively. Meanwhile, the lactonization and the polymerization of chlorogenic acid are the major causes for the degradation of polyphenols in coffee. Tea catechins, besides having antioxidant properties, have the novel characteristic of trapping reactive carbonyl species. The A ring of the catechins is the binding site for RCS trapping, whereas the B ring is the preferred site for antioxidation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Catechin / analysis
  • Catechin / chemistry
  • Chlorogenic Acid / chemistry
  • Coffee / chemistry*
  • Drug Stability
  • Flavonoids / analysis*
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Polyphenols
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / chemistry
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Antioxidants
  • Coffee
  • Flavonoids
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Tea
  • Chlorogenic Acid
  • Catechin