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Molecules 2018, 23(4), 790; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23040790

Occurrence of Functional Molecules in the Flowers of Tea (Camellia sinensis) Plants: Evidence for a Second Resource

1,2,†
,
1,†
,
1,3
,
4
,
5
and
1,3,*
1
Key Laboratory of South China Agricultural Plant Molecular Analysis and Genetic Improvement & Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xingke Road 723, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510650, China
2
Tea Research Institute, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences & Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Tea Plant Resources Innovation and Utilization, Dafeng Road 6, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510640, China
3
College of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19A Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China
4
Guangdong Food and Drug Vocational College, Longdongbei Road 321, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510520, China
5
Department of Tea Science, Zhejiang University, 388 Yuhangtang Road, Hangzhou 310058, China
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Isabel C. F. R. Ferreira
Received: 19 March 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 29 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Collection Bioactive Compounds)
Full-Text   |   PDF [12488 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]   |  

Abstract

Tea (Camellia sinensis) is an important crop, and its leaves are used to make the most widely consumed beverage, aside from water. People have been using leaves from tea plants to make teas for a long time. However, less attention has been paid to the flowers of tea plants, which is a waste of an abundant resource. In the past 15 years, researchers have attempted to discover, identify, and evaluate functional molecules from tea flowers, and have made insightful and useful discoveries. Here, we summarize the recent investigations into these functional molecules in tea flowers, including functional molecules similar to those in tea leaves, as well as the preponderant functional molecules in tea flowers. Tea flowers contain representative metabolites similar to those of tea leaves, such as catechins, flavonols, caffeine, and amino acids. The preponderant functional molecules in tea flowers include saponins, polysaccharides, aromatic compounds, spermidine derivatives, and functional proteins. We also review the safety and biological functions of tea flowers. Tea flower extracts are proposed to be of no toxicological concern based on evidence from the evaluation of mutagenicity, and acute and subchronic toxicity in rats. The presence of many functional metabolites in tea flowers indicates that tea flowers possess diverse biological functions, which are mostly related to catechins, polysaccharides, and saponins. Finally, we discuss the potential for, and challenges facing, future applications of tea flowers as a second resource from tea plants. View Full-Text
Keywords: amino acid; aroma; Camellia sinensis; polysaccharide; saponin; tea flower amino acid; aroma; Camellia sinensis; polysaccharide; saponin; tea flower
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Chen, Y.; Zhou, Y.; Zeng, L.; Dong, F.; Tu, Y.; Yang, Z. Occurrence of Functional Molecules in the Flowers of Tea (Camellia sinensis) Plants: Evidence for a Second Resource. Molecules 2018, 23, 790.

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