Theanine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid found in the tea plant Camellia sinensis. At an elevated temperature (>90 °C), it released two major volatile compounds 1-ethyl-1,5-dihydro-2H-pyrrol-2-one and N-ethylsuccinimide. Other products were identified, including 10 pyrroles and 12 amides/imides. The formation of the two major compounds was proposed to be initiated by the deamination of theanine and through the intermediate α-keto acid. In the presence of glucose, the two major products and many other volatiles from theanine thermal degradation were accelerated and further Maillard reactions occurred. A total of 56 compounds were identified in the model system of theanine and glucose, including 12 amides/imides, 16 pyrazines, 16 pyrroles and other N-heterocycles, and 12 furans and other O-heterocycles. Although most of the reaction products were detected in tea leaves and in their aqueous extract with or without the addition of theanine under the same experiment conditions, imides and amides were considerably suppressed, left only minute amounts, or were even no longer detectable. Pyrazines and pyrroles were also shown at reduced concentrations as a result of the interaction with tea components but to a lesser extent. A total of 16 and 12 pyrazines were identified in the theanine/glucose reaction system and tea leaves/aqueous extract after roasting, respectively. The results indicated that pyrazines and other main volatiles in roasted tea leaves were formed from the Maillard reactions of the aqueous fraction of tea leaves. Theanine participated in the formation of pyrazines in tea leaves under roasting conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- 1-ethyl-1,5-dihydro-2 H-pyrrol-2-one
- Maillard reactions
- tea roasting