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Figure 9. Anthocyanidins from tea thearubigins.

Figure 9. Anthocyanidins from tea thearubigins.

dition, minor amounts of hydrogen peroxide generated during fermentation may be activated by the peroxidase enzyme and bring about further oxidative condensations that augment the thearubigin fraction (49). Model system studies in which single catechins and known catechin mixtures are enzymatically oxidized in vitro have shown some promise for further structure elucidation (50).

This fraction constitutes the largest group of compounds in black tea (up to 20% of dry weight) and contributes significantly to color, strength, and mouth-feel of the beverage, but is its least well defined. It has been suggested that thearubigin may not be a useful term for the chemical characterization of this tea fraction because of its heterogeneity and the more recently observed facts that some unchanged fresh-leaf components are included (13). It does refer, however, to a group of substances that have significance to the tea taster with regard to beverage organoleptic properties.

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