Variation in Catechin Composition of Popularly Cultivated Tea Clones in East Africa (Kenya)

Abstract

Tea polyphenols and catechins have gained prominence in determination of tea quality. Tea leaves contain large amounts of catechins and their derivatives and these have shown positive effects on human health. An experiment was carried out to determine the level of catechins and polyphenols in 20 new clones found in two distinct tea growing areas. The trial comprising twenty clones was established in two distinct sites in Kenya using randomized complete block design with three replicates and consisted of 10 popular cultivars widely cultivated in the Lake Victoria Basin and additional 10 newly improved clones. Tea leaf samples were collected across two seasons; dry and wet seasons. Tea quality parameters entailing catechins, caffeine and total polyphenols was generated for the 20 clones across the two seasons and sites. The ISO 14502-1 and ISO 14502-1:2005 procedures were used for polyphenol and catechin analyses, respectively. The ANOVA results generated indicated that the level of catechins and polyphenols in tea were significantly different (p < 0.05) and varietal dependent. Generally, the assam varieties had higher levels of catechins and polyphenols than the chinary and cambod varieties, indicating why they are popularly cultivated in the East African region and whose tea quality is highly regarded. Furthermore, the results from principle component analysis (PCA) grouped the clones into three major clusters with one comprising of high quality assam varieties, a mixture of moderate quality assam, cambod and chinary varieties and low catechin content assam anthocyanin-rich variety. It is concluded that the level of catechins in tea plants are varietal dependent, although environmental stress has effects on the synthesis of flavanoids. The results demonstrated that the differences in the accumulation of catechins among the tea clones could be important for the discrimination of clonal diversity.

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L. Cherotich, S. Kamunya, A. Alakonya, S. Msomba, M. Uwimana, J. Wanyoko and P. Owuor, "Variation in Catechin Composition of Popularly Cultivated Tea Clones in East Africa (Kenya)," American Journal of Plant Sciences, Vol. 4 No. 3, 2013, pp. 628-640. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2013.43081.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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