Chiral analysis of theanine and catechin in characterization of green tea by cyclodextrin-modified micellar electrokinetic chromatography and high performance liquid chromatography

J Chromatogr A. 2018 Aug 10;1562:115-122. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2018.05.063. Epub 2018 May 28.


Monomeric catechins are important compounds in green tea accounting for potential bioactivity against a wide range of diseases. Besides catechins, l-Theanine (γ-glutamylethylamide), a characteristic amino acid in tea leaves, has become a further focus of the phytochemical research for the reported beneficial effects mainly on cognitive performance, emotional state and sleep quality. In the present study has been developed a CD-MEKC method based on sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and Heptakis (2,6-di-O-methyl)-β-cyclodextrin for the separation of six major green tea catechins and enantiomers of theanine. The latter, because of the poor detectability was derivatized prior analysis by o-phthaldialdehyde in the presence of N-acetyl-l-cysteine which, under mild conditions (neutral pH, in two minutes) allowed two diastereomers isoindole derivatives to be obtained. The derivatization reaction was directly carried out on tea infusion and derivatized samples were analysed by CD-MEKC involving 65 mM SDS and 28 mM cyclodextrin in acidic buffer (pH 2.5). The separation of six major green tea catechins including enantioresolution of (±)-Catechin and d/l-Theanine was obtained in about 5 min allowing d-Theanine to be quantified at least at 0.5% m/m level with respect to l-Theanine. Since (-)-Catechin and d-Theanine can be considered as non-native enantiomers (distomers), their presence in real samples provides an indication of tea leaves treatments (thermal treatment, fermentation, etc.) and could represent an opportunity for grading tea. The obtained results were confirmed by a RP-HPLC approach; even though the chromatography was developed in achiral conditions, the derivatization approach applied to theanine (diastereomers formation), allowed for d/l-Theanine chiral analysis.

Keywords: (±)-Catechin; Chiral analysis; Derivatization; HPLC; Micellar electrokinetic chromatography; d/l-Theanine.

MeSH terms

  • Catechin / chemistry*
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid*
  • Chromatography, Micellar Electrokinetic Capillary*
  • Cyclodextrins / chemistry*
  • Glutamates / chemistry*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate / chemistry
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • beta-Cyclodextrins / chemistry
  • o-Phthalaldehyde / chemistry


  • Cyclodextrins
  • Glutamates
  • Tea
  • beta-Cyclodextrins
  • methyl-beta-cyclodextrin
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • o-Phthalaldehyde
  • theanine
  • Catechin