CROSS REFERENCE TO THE RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is a Divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/338,746 filed Jan. 25, 2006. The entire disclosure of the prior application is hereby incorporated by reference.
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OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a beverage which contains catechins and has improved taste, such as low bitterness and astringency, and suppressed occurrence of sediment and cream down.
2. Related Art Statement
Catechins contained in tea are reported to have many health effects, such as antioxidant action, blood cholesterol reducing action, hypotensive action, and hyperglycemia inhibitory action. Catechins exist in ester form, such as (−)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), (−)-gallocatechin gallate (GCg), (−)-epicatechin gallate (ECg), and (−)-catechin gallate (Cg), and in free form, such as (−)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (−)-gallocatechin (GC), (−)-epicatechin (EC), (−)-catechin (C), and (+)-catechin ((+)C).
On the other hand, methylxanthines, in particular, caffeine, can be cited as components involved in the taste of tea beverages (in the present invention, beverages containing tea leaf extract are collectively referred to as tea beverages). Caffeine is believed to participate in bitter taste/harsh taste, and a high dose of caffeine provides a beverage with a strongly stimulating taste. Aiming for catechins' health function, if a high dose is ingested, a high concentration of this caffeine derived from tea ends up contained. Caffeine contained in high concentration cannot yield positive feeling from the viewpoint of side effects and bitter taste/harsh taste on the palate.
In recent years, with the expectation of catechins' functionality, attention is concentrated on ingesting catechins more actively, and tea beverages with decreased caffeine have been developed by testing combinations of catechins and caffeine.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,259,758 (Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. H10-004919) discloses a food and beverage containing caffeine in the amount of 0.1 mass parts or less, and containing cyclodextrin, preferably β-cyclodextrin, in the amount of 0.1 to 20.0 mass parts, preferably 0.1 to 10.0 mass parts, with respect to 1 mass part of catechins.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,162,359 (Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. H3-164136) discloses a beverage comprising (a) at least 80 mass percent of water, (b) at least 0.05 mass percent of flavanols selected from the group consisting of catechin, catechin derivative, epicatechin, epicatechin derivative, and mixture thereof, (c) at least 0.2 mass percent of flavor substance selected from the group consisting of fruit flavor, plant flavor, and mixture thereof, and (d) 0.002 to 1.0 mass percent of caffeine (with the proviso that the ratio of caffeine versus flavanols is 1:1 to 1:30).
U.S. Pat. No. 3,507,433 (Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2001-197863) discloses a green tea extract, which is a green tea extract having 1% of soluble solid as a base, having (a) a mixture of catechins having a molecular weight range corresponding to an ultrafiltration membrane made from a polymer having a nominal cutoff molecular weight of 700 to 5000 daltons, the catechin mixture containing (1) at least 130 ppm of epicatechin, (2) at least 300 ppm of epigallocatechin, (3) at least 350 ppm of epigallocatechin gallate, and (4) at least 60 ppm of epicatechin gallate, (b) at least 50 ppm of theanine, (c) 10 ppm or less each of calcium, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, zinc, and iron ion, (d) an optical density of 0.06 or less when measured at 600 nm and further containing at least 450 ppm of caffeine.
Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2004-129669 discloses a containered tea beverage containing (a) 320 mg/500 mL to 1300 mg/500 mL of non-polymeric catechins and (b) caffeine, (c) the content ratio of non-epicatechins among non-polymeric catechins being 40 to 80 mass percent, (d) the mass ratio of non-polymeric catechins over caffeine being 5 to 8, (e) the mass ratio of non-polymeric catechins over total polyphenol being 0.88 to 1.0, and (f) turbidity being 0.7 or less, and containing high concentrations of non-polymeric catechins, with decreased bitter taste, harsh taste, and the like, and improved flavor.
Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2004-180535 discloses a method for removing caffeine selectively from a caffeine and catechin-containing component, in which a caffeine and catechin-containing component is dissolved in a solution of organic solvent and water mixed with a mass ratio of 9/1 to 1/9 and contacted with activated charcoal.
Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2004-35417 discloses an agent for increasing the total blood ketone concentration containing non-polymeric catechins (A) and caffeine (B) in which the content mass ratio [(A)/(B)] of non-polymeric catechins (A) over caffeine (B) is 0.3 or more.
Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2002-187848 discloses a Camellia sinensis polyphenol fraction containing 50% to 65% epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate, 13% to 20% epicatechin-3-O-gallate, 2% to 4% epicatechin, and 1.5% to 3% epigallocatechin, as well as 0.2% or less caffeine, obtained by a method for extracting a polyphenol fraction from Camellia sinensis (tea) containing 0.2 mass percent or less caffeine.
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OF THE INVENTION
An object of the present invention is to provide a beverage that maintains a high concentration of catechin with high biological functionality, with improved flavor and product quality.
After earnest studies in view of the above problems, the present inventors observed that by adjusting to a predetermined range the concentration of catechins, the ratio of catechins in ester form to catechins in free form, and the ratio of catechins in ester form to caffeine in a beverage, the original flavor of the beverage-could be retained, but with decreased astringency, bitter taste and harsh taste, and furthermore, the occurrence of so-called sediment and cream down could be suppressed, and therefore the present inventors devised the present invention based on these observations.
That is to say, the present invention provides a beverage, which is a beverage containing catechins in ester form (A, mg/L), catechins in free form (B, mg/L), and caffeine (C, mg/L), the contents thereof being
(1) (A+B)=500 to 6000 mg/L
(2) (A)/(A+B)=0.7 to 1.0
(3) (A)/(C)=6 to 27.
Catechins are major components contributing to the taste of tea beverages, among which catechin in free form is believed to contribute to the astringency of tea beverages.
In addition, catechins in ester form (EGCg, GCg, ECg, and Cg) compared to catechins in free form (EGC, GC, EC, C, (+)C) have stronger reactivity with other components, which is significant for health function.
Generally, the amount of catechin in ester form contained in a tea extract is on the order of 50% with respect to the total amount of catechin in ester form and catechin in free form.
The present invention is a beverage that allows, by increasing the catechin content while elevating the ratio of catechin in ester form within a predetermined range and adjusting the ratio between caffeine and catechin in ester form, the original flavor of the tea to be obtained with decreased astringency, bitter taste and harsh taste, and the catechin in ester form to be selectively and effectively ingested. In addition, the so-called sediment and cream down can be suppressed, which makes it an excellent beverage as a tea beverage.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
Hereinafter, an embodiment of a beverage of the present invention will be described. However, the scope of the present invention is not limited to the embodiment described below.
This embodiment contains catechin in ester form (A), catechin in free form (B), and caffeine (C), the contents thereof being
(1) (A)+(B)=500 to 6000 mg/L
(2) (A)/[(A)+(B)]=0.7 to 1.0
(3) (A)/(C)=6 to 27.