It’s not every day that a new tea is discovered—especially one that contains many of the nutrients found in regular tea but without the caffeine—but that is precisely what happened in China recently. Researchers from the Tea Research Institute revealed in November that they had discovered that hongyacha, a wild tea plant from the mountainous regions of southern China, contains almost no caffeine, but many of the health benefits of regular tea.
If you’re considering certification in high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), you’ll be interested to know that this exciting discovery was made using HPLC. Let’s take a closer look at the role HPLC played in this story.
How Researchers Used High Performance Liquid Chromatography to Understand Hongyacha
Technically, the hongyacha wasn’t exactly “discovered” by the researchers. In fact, it had long been used by local villagers who claimed it offered numerous health benefits, such as for curing colds and treating stomach pains. However, these claims about the tea’s potential health benefits were never confirmed by actual scientific tests. One reason hongyacha had escaped the notice of researchers is because it only grows at altitudes between 700 and 1,000m in a narrow mountainous region in the southern part of Fujian Province.
When researchers decided to test the villagers’ claims concerning hongyacha, they turned to high performance liquid chromatography. HPLC allowed them to separate the tea plant’s various components, which in turn made it easier for them to identify what compounds the plant contained.
The use of HPLC on the hongyacha’s buds and leaves revealed that the tea contained almost no caffeine, but it did contain many of the healthy compounds otherwise found in regular tea. Furthermore, using HPLC, the researchers discovered that hongyacha contains rare compounds that are not found in regular tea. The researchers eventually determined that a gene mutation in the plant is the reason it does not produce caffeine like regular tea does.
Using HPLC Training Helped Uncover a Tea Plant with Lots of Market Potential
Hongyacha is such an exciting find because tea drinkers are currently limited if they want a tea that offers tea’s health benefits but without the caffeine. Decaffeinating tea usually involves either hot water treatments or supercritical carbon dioxide, both of which remove not only the caffeine but also many of tea’s healthy compounds. Plus, many tea drinkers complain that decaffeinated tea lacks the flavour of regular tea. Hongyacha solves all of these problems, which is why it could become very popular for those who don’t like caffeine, but still want the health benefits of tea.
Hongyacha tea is a great reminder of how HPLC training can have a significant impact, especially since the demand for this new tea could be massive.
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