Tea is a medicinal beverage manufactured from the plant, Camellia sinensis L. The bud and two adjacent leaves (tea flush) are generally harvested in this process. Currently, it is also used as an ingredient in cosmetic products. The present study was carried out to screen the antioxidant activity and the distribution of phenolic content in different parts of the tea plant for their utilization in other industries. The parts of C. sinensis L. used were tea flush, leaves, branches, seed, pericarp and root. Total phenolic content and antioxidant properties of the aqueous extracts were determined by Folin-Denis method and DPPH assay, respectively. The DPPH scavenging capacity in descending order was bud and first two leaves (tea flush)>tender leaves>mature leaves>seed=pericarp>tender branches>mature branches>root. There was no significant difference between tender leaves and the tea bud with two leaves regarding antioxidant activity. The phenolic content was highest in tea flush and least in root. The antioxidant capacity of the different parts were significantly correlated (r2=0.91; p<0.0001) with their polyphenolic content. Independent of the part of the plant, polyphenols are the principal constituents which are responsible for antioxidant capacity. Tender leaves just below the tea flush cannot be disregarded in cosmetic or food related industries.
Key words: Camellia sinensis L., phenolic content, antioxidant potential, tea.
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