In the previous post, we learned that tea contains a number of active chemical constituents, about half of which are some type of catechin. Today we’ll learn a little bit more about the basics of catechins, and in future posts we’ll dive more into the research on what catechins do health-wise.
What Are Catechins?
A catechin is a type of flavonoid. It is a flavonol, and also a natural plant phenol, usually called polyphenol. (Don’t ask me what that means–I didn’t study chemistry–that’s just what the websites of wikipedia & the American Heart Association say 😛 )
“Catechin” includes a number of sub-type of catechins found in pu’er tea, including epicatechin (EC) and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), as well as quite a few others.
Tea catechins are similar to those found in wine as they are specific chemical compounds, but their effects and reactions differ.
What Do Catechins Do?
Catechins are known as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals that are thought to play a role in everything from heart disease to cancer.
Catechins are found in tea, wine, cacao, coffee, and berries including the red raspberries, acai berry, and other wild berries. They help to create the flavor, color, and are usually the source tannins (residues).
Below is a chart from OctaviaTea.com showing the hierarchy of flavonoids-flavonols-catechins and some of the prime food sources of them. I will make one correction to the chart: Catechins should be under Flavonols, not Flavanols.