Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby MrEffendi » Aug 18th, '13, 13:07

I'm doing some light research on what exactly is in our Pu-erh tea. So far I've found that Pu-erh contains gallic acid in varying amounts. Gallic acid is proven to have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties; gallic acid is also cytotoxic to cancer cells but has no cytotoxic properties in regards to non-cancerous cells.

Our tea also contains polyphenols. The jury is still out as to rather or not polyphenols actually do anything in regards to human physiology.

The catechin content in our tea has an affinity for cannabinoid receptors in the brain. So the catechin content may be what we are referring to as "qi." Catechins in larger doses provide a calming effect.

Of course we all know about caffeine. According to webMD (not the best source I concede) pu-erh generally contains less caffeine than other teas.

I've yet to find a peer-reviewed article explaining the quantity of these chemicals in the tea. Why doesn't someone just use a gas chromatograph and find out?

So, do we have any chemists on this forum? It would be interesting to see gas chromatography findings on Pu-erh tea but I can't find an article. I'm still curious what other alkaloids are hiding in this tea and why some tea seems to have a strong psychoactive effect and others do not. My Lincang purple bud seems to have a downright sedating effect for example. I want to know what exactly is causing said sedation. Is it the catechin content or are there other alkaloids responsible for this zen-like calming effect? What alkaloids are you familiar with in regards to pu-erh tea? What sort of psychoactive effects have you personally experienced while drinking Pu-erh?

Also note, I don't drink Pu-erh because of the supposed health benefits. I drink it because I enjoy it but am curious as to what exactly is "in" my tea.
Last edited by MrEffendi on Aug 18th, '13, 14:12, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby siae » Aug 18th, '13, 13:37

I find the connection with cannabinoid receptors interesting. I am a regular cannabis user and some of the more qi-intense teas I have tried have definitely reminded me of my other favorite plant.
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby TomVerlain » Aug 18th, '13, 13:41

One issue in trying to quantify what is in pu'erh is that there are a myriad of pu'erhs and a million ways to prepare them. A 2013 7542 and a 1988 7542 are going to be very different than the same years 7262. 2013 7542's come in varieties as well.

Even if you decide to chop them up and brew them for 10 minutes to extract everything from them, and standardize on weight/water/temp, it may not reflect the chemistry of what a user might get from two rinses and then 10 second infusions.

While you might be able to identify what can be found in tea, I don't think you would be able to correlate effects of a particular tea in a particular person at a particular time to general ingredients.
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby MrEffendi » Aug 18th, '13, 14:25

Yes, the countless varietals of tea and the plethora of variables involved in brewing a simple cup of tea does prove problematic. I'm still curious if there's other alkaloids in the tea that I am not aware of however.

I also think I have the answer as to why my purple bud gives me such a strong buzz. Catechins (the alkaloid that has the affinity for canabinoid receptors) build up in the leaves in greater amounts when the tea is being exposed to an over-abundance of UV. Catechin in tea is to melanin in humans. The catechin absorbs the UV thus protecting the plant. Methinkst I'll purchase more purple Puerh to see if I find the same favorable psychoactive effects.

Now does anyone receive a more calming sensation when drinking aged vs young puerh? I certainly do but it could be placebo from drinking something that is vintage/exquisite.

Don't let the FDA find out that our tea binds to canabinoid receptors. Next up: draconian measures banning tea leaves from China.
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby William » Aug 18th, '13, 15:16

MrEffendi wrote:Methinkst I'll purchase more purple Puerh to see if I find the same favorable psychoactive effects.

What do you mean with purple Puerh?

MrEffendi wrote:Don't let the FDA find out that our tea binds to canabinoid receptors. Next up: draconian measures banning tea leaves from China.

:mrgreen:
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby siae » Aug 18th, '13, 15:18

William wrote:
MrEffendi wrote:Methinkst I'll purchase more purple Puerh to see if I find the same favorable psychoactive effects.

What do you mean with purple Puerh?

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/yunnan-sou ... grams.html
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby William » Aug 18th, '13, 16:01

siae wrote:
William wrote:
MrEffendi wrote:Methinkst I'll purchase more purple Puerh to see if I find the same favorable psychoactive effects.

What do you mean with purple Puerh?

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/yunnan-sou ... grams.html

Thank you!
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby Drax » Aug 18th, '13, 16:33

For the record, catechins aren't alkaloids.
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby gingkoseto » Aug 18th, '13, 16:56

Drax wrote:For the record, catechins aren't alkaloids.

It's not wrong to say (some) catechins are somewhat alkaline though.
Tea liquor is generally weakly acidic but tea is seen as an "alkaline beverage" by a lot of nutritionists (in contrast to acidic food such as fat and soda beverages). When oxidized in the body, catechins react/diminish acidic groups of other chemicals. This way they serve as an alkaline source as well as antioxidants.
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby TomVerlain » Aug 18th, '13, 19:23

If you buy one of these and send me half, I'll let you know what effect it has on me 8)

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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby MrEffendi » Aug 18th, '13, 19:42

Jeebus! For the record, my $22 purple bud yunnan sourcing beeng tastes just as good as my $160 lincang purple bud.
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby Evan Draper » Aug 19th, '13, 14:27

MrEffendi wrote:The catechin content in our tea has an affinity for cannabinoid receptors in the brain. So the catechin content may be what we are referring to as "qi." Catechins in larger doses provide a calming effect.

Would love to see some citations on this.

I have run into several studies, and like Tom says, there are many but their scope is small, so I'd say there aren't solid generalizations that can be made yet. But I'm not a chemist, so maybe I'm just not up on the latest findings. Keep looking and you'll find information.

I try not to use the word "alkaloids"; apparently it's not a well-defined category. Usually people are referring to caffeine and its relatives when they say "alkaloids" in the context of tea: I find "methylxanthines" is more precise for this purpose. Anthocyanins and catechins are two different families of polyphenols.

One scientist I spoke with said HPLC will cost me around $200 a pass.
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Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby Jspigs » Aug 19th, '13, 14:41

Evan Draper wrote:
MrEffendi wrote:The catechin content in our tea has an affinity for cannabinoid receptors in the brain. So the catechin content may be what we are referring to as "qi." Catechins in larger doses provide a calming effect.

Would love to see some citations on this.


Here you go: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19897346/
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby teaisme » Aug 19th, '13, 17:36

Good luck man there are so many different substances in tea, then there is the complications of synergy etc and the great limitations of the specific methodology being used. What u find in the test tube is just a blurry glimpse of the whole picture. Often missing out on indirect effects such as gene regulation and so on.

Note that catechins are a type of flavanoid, fitting in the flavanol sub class, and that flavanoids are a type of polyphenol. These all fit under the general term phytochemical. I blame the huge amount of poorly written health and news articles strewn across the media for all this confusion about these words. The jury is not really out as you stated.

Have you looked through some pubmed? I recall reading some crude studies trying to break tea down into components.
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Re: Tea alkaloids and tea chemistry

Postby mr mopu » Aug 19th, '13, 21:02

TomVerlain wrote:If you buy one of these and send me half, I'll let you know what effect it has on me 8)

Image

I might need half of the half to test also to be sure.
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