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Potential of benzophenones and flavanones to modulate the bitter intensity of Cyclopia genistoides herbal tea

Alexander, Lara, de Beer, Dalene, Muller, Magdalena, van der Rijst, Marieta, Joubert, Elizabeth
Food research international 2019 v.125 pp. 108519
Cyclopia genistoides, benzophenones, bitterness, flavanones, herbal tea, hesperidin, phenolic compounds, sensory evaluation, xanthone
Variation in the bitter taste of Cyclopia genistoides (honeybush) herbal tea and reported modulation between its major xanthones, mangiferin and isomangiferin, prompted further investigation into the potential modulatory effects of honeybush phenolics. Combinations of crude benzophenone (BF)-, xanthone (XF)-, and flavanone (FF)-rich fractions and their major individual phenolic compounds were analysed by descriptive sensory analysis. The fractions were prepared from a bitter, hot water extract of green C. genistoides. Fraction BF, which is below the bitter threshold (intensity 10 on 100-point scale), enhanced the bitter intensity of XF and FF slightly (p < 0.05), although none of the major individual benzophenones retained this bitter enhancing effect. On the contrary, 3-β-d-glucopyranosyl-4-β-d-glucopyranosyloxyiriflophenone, the major benzophenone in BF, significantly (p < 0.05) decreased the bitter taste of XF, at a low concentration, whereas FF suppressed the bitter intensity of XF and mangiferin, the major xanthone present in XF. Hesperidin, however, had no effect on the bitter intensity of XF. In contrast, (2S)-5-[α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-d-glucopyranosyloxy]-naringenin, the major compound of FF, significantly (p < 0.05) enhanced the bitter taste of XF when added at concentrations comparable to that of ‘fermented’ honeybush tea infusions. The concentration-dependence of these bitter taste interactions may be responsible for the variable bitter intensity of C. genistoides herbal tea.