Impact of Cold versus Hot Brewing on the Phenolic Profile and Antioxidant Capacity of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) Herbal Tea

Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Oct 21;8(10):499. doi: 10.3390/antiox8100499.


Consumption of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) as herbal tea is growing in popularity worldwide and its health-promoting attributes are mainly ascribed to its phenolic composition, which may be affected by the brewing conditions used. An aspect so far overlooked is the impact of cold brewing vs regular brewing and microwave boiling on the poly(phenolic) profile and in vitro antioxidant capacity of infusions prepared from red ('fermented', oxidized) and green ('unfermented', unoxidized) rooibos, the purpose of the present study. By using an untargeted metabolomics-based approach (UHPLC-QTOF mass spectrometry), 187 phenolic compounds were putatively annotated in both rooibos types, with flavonoids, tyrosols, and phenolic acids the most represented type of phenolic classes. Multivariate statistics (OPLS-DA) highlighted the phenolic classes most affected by the brewing conditions. Similar antioxidant capacities (ORAC and ABTS assays) were observed between cold- and regular-brewed green rooibos and boiled-brewed red rooibos. However, boiling green and red rooibos delivered infusions with the highest antioxidant capacities and total polyphenol content. The polyphenol content strongly correlated with the in vitro antioxidant capacities, especially for flavonoids and phenolic acids. These results contribute to a better understanding of the impact of the preparation method on the potential health benefits of rooibos tea.

Keywords: cold brewing; hot brewing; in vitro antioxidant capacity; metabolomics; polyphenols; rooibos tea.