Indexed on: 25 Jan '18Published on: 25 Jan '18Published in: Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)
Wuyi Rock tea, well-recognized for rich flavor and long-lasting fragrance, is a premium subcategory of oolong tea mainly produced in Wuyi Mountain and nearby regions of China. The quality of tea is mainly determined by the chemical constituents in the tea leaves. However, this remains underexplored for Wuyi Rock tea cultivars. In this study, we investigated the leaf metabolite profiles of 14 major Wuyi Rock tea cultivars grown in the same producing region using UPLC-QTOF MS and UPLC-QqQ MS with data processing via principal component analysis and cluster analysis. Relative quantitation of 49 major metabolites including flavan-3-ols, proanthocyanidins, flavonol glycosides, flavone glycosides, flavonone glycosides, phenolic acid derivatives, hydrolysable tannins, alkaloids and amino acids revealed clear variations between tea cultivars. In particular, catechins, kaempferol and quercetin derivatives were key metabolites responsible for cultivar discrimination. Information on the varietal differences in the levels of bioactive/functional metabolites, such as methylated catechins, flavonol glycosides and theanine, offers valuable insights to further explore the nutritional values and sensory qualities of Wuyi Rock tea. It also provides potential markers for tea plant fingerprinting and cultivar identification.