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Drought stress (DS) is the most important abiotic stress affecting yield and quality of tea worldwide. DS causes oxidative stress to cells due to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). As non-enzymatic antioxidants, tea catechins can scavenge excess ROS in response to DS. Further, catechin accumulation contributes to the formation of oxidative polymerization products (e.g. theaflavins and thearubigins) that improve the quality of black tea. However, there are no systematic reports on the response of tea catechins to DS. First, we reviewed the available literature on the response of tea plants to DS. Second, we summarized the current knowledge of ROS production in tea leaves under DS and typical antioxidant response mechanisms. Third, we conducted a detailed review of the changes in catechin levels in tea under different drought conditions. We found that the total amounts of catechin and o-quinone increased under DS conditions. We propose that the possible mechanisms underlying tea catechin accumulation under DS conditions include (i) autotrophic formation of o-quinone, (ii) polymerization of proanthocyanidins that directly scavenge excess ROS, and (iii) formation of metal ion complexes and by influencing the antioxidant systems that indirectly eliminate excess ROS. Finally, we discuss ways of potentially improving black tea quality using drought before picking in the summer/fall dry season. In summary, we mainly discuss the antioxidant mechanisms of tea catechins under DS and the possibility of using drought to improve black tea quality. Our review provides a theoretical basis for the production of high-quality black tea under DS conditions. © 2021 Society of Chemical Industry. © 2021 Society of Chemical Industry.


Zhidong Lv, Chenyu Zhang, Chenyu Shao, Baogui Liu, Enshuo Liu, Danni Yuan, Yuebing Zhou, Chengwen Shen. Research progress on the response of tea catechins to drought stress. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. 2021 Oct;101(13):5305-5313

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PMID: 34031895

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