Bush tea (Athrixia phylicoides DC.) is a root perennial shrub used as indigenous tea and medicinal tea in South Africa. Thus, concurrent trials were conducted under different growing conditions as follows: in the glasshouse, field planted and wild, naturally grown, to investigate the effects of seasonal harvests and growing environments on carbohydrate reserves and quality parameters of bush tea. Of 50 plants, 25 single plants were allotted to each respective environment in a field and glasshouse conditions—and were arranged in a randomized complete block design. These were then harvested in summer, autumn, winter, and spring, respectively. For the wild bush tea trial, 25 single plants were randomly selected. Selected sugars and starch were quantified together with other quality parameters [total polyphenolic content (TPC), total flavonoid content (TFC), total tannin content (TTC), and total antioxidant activities). The study revealed that the glucose content of bush tea plant organs was significantly higher during winter, followed by autumn, as compared with the other seasons. Similar fructose and sucrose trends were evident. However, the content of amylopectin was also significantly higher during summer, followed by autumn, compared with the other seasons. In winter, plants exhibited higher amylopectin content when compared with other seasons. No significant differences were found in the amylose content. Both wild and cultivated bush tea plants yielded the highest specific sugars in the study. The phytochemicals present in the leaves of field-grown bush tea and wild bush tea during winter were higher than in those grown in summer, autumn, and spring. No significant difference in tannin contents was observed, irrespective of seasons and growing conditions. Regardless of growing conditions, autumn yielded lower total antioxidant activities using both the DPPH and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assays when compared with other seasons. To better resolve the metabolomic data, principal component analysis (PCA) was used and the first principal component showed a strong correlation within all parameters recorded over PC2. Future ecophysiological studies are recommended to establish region- and season-specific metabolomic biomarkers with canonical distinction on beverage, pharmacological, and organoleptic attributes of bush teas.
Mudau N. Fhatuwani and Makunga P. Nokwanda
Maedza K. Vuwani, Mpumelelo Nkomo, Wonder Ngezimana, Nokwanda P. Makunga and Fhatuwani N. Mudau
Bush tea (Athrixia phylicoides DC.) is an herbal beverage and medicinal plant indigenous to South Africa. This study evaluated the effects of micronutrients on bush tea quality. Treatments consisted of single applications of zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), boron (Bo), iron (Fe), and magnesium (Mg) at three levels (50, 100, and 150 mL/L) and a combination of all micronutrients. A control treatment with no spray was also included. Tea samples were analyzed using head space solid phase microextraction gas chromatography linked to mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS). A significant change in the metabolite profile of bush tea was noted. Five major compounds were identified (>80% identification probability) namely alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and caryophyllene oxide. A linear relationship between percentage leaf tissues and treatment levels of micronutrients in bush tea was also observed. The liquid chromatography linked to mass spectrometry (LC–MS) showed no significant qualitative difference between the control and the micronutrient treatments. There were significant quantitative differences between the control and treatments applied at 50 and 100 mL/L and the combination (B + Zn + Fe + Cu + Mg) applied at 10 and 20 mL/L. The application of micronutrients did have an influence on the metabolite quantities as has been reported with most secondary metabolite fluctuations caused by plant–environment interactions. Altering the micronutrient application may be a possible solution in achieving commercial agricultural production of this medicinal beverage.