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J Agric Food Chem. 2004 May 5;52(9):2455-61.

Analysis of theaflavins and thearubigins from black tea extract by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry.

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  • 1Department of Food Science and Center for Advanced Food Technology, Rutgers University, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8520, USA.


Black tea contains two major groups of pigments, theaflavins (TFs) and thearubigins (TRs). TFs contain a bis-flavan substituted 1,2-dihydroxy-3,4-benzotropolone moiety. Unlike the TFs, TRs have not yet been characterized. The chemical structure of the TRs remains a mystery. The present paper reports our effort to study the structure of TFs and TRs using delayed pulsed ion extraction of ions generated via the matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) technique, on line with a Linear time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer. Spectra of standard TFs show not only pseudomolecular ions but also ions resulting from fragmentation. The analysis of MALDI-TOF spectra of black tea fractions shows the structure of some TRs, which are similar to those of TFs because the same loss of mass is observed.

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