Tea polyphenols, especially the catechins, are potent antimicrobial and antioxidant agents, with positive effects on human health. White tea is one of the less studied teas but the flavour is more accepted than that of green tea in Europe. The concentrations of various catechins in 13 different kinds of infusion were determined by capillary electrophoresis. The total polyphenol content (Folin–Ciocalteu method), the trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC value determined with the 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) radical cation) and the inhibitory effects of infusions on the growth of some microorganisms were determined. Five different infusions (black, white, green and red teas and rooibos infusion) were added to a model food system, comprising a sunflower oil-in-water emulsion containing 0% or 0.2% bovine serum albumin (BSA), and the oxidative stability was studied during storage at 37 °C. Oxidation of the oil was monitored by determination of the peroxide value.
The highest radical-scavenging activity observed was for the green and white teas. Emulsions containing these extracts from these teas were much more stable during storage when bovine serum albumin (BSA) was present than when it was not present, even though BSA itself did not provide an antioxidant effect (at 0.2% concentration). Rooibos infusion did not show the same synergy with BSA. Green tea and white tea showed similar inhibitions of several microorganisms and the magnitude of this was comparable to that of the commercial infusion 2 (C.I.2), “té de la belleza”. This tea also had an antioxidant activity comparable to green tea.