Honeybees (Apis mellifera) Produce Honey from Flowers of Tea Plants (Camellia sinensis)

We obtained honey from the blooming flowers of tea plants (Camellia sinensis L.) pollinated by honeybees (Apis mellifera L.). Functional amino acids, theanine, which is a unique ingredient to tea, was determined using reversed-phase chromatography. We also determined the main ingredients: caffeine and catechins. The obtained honey contained theanine, which shows that it was derived from tea flowers. The theanine concentration of the nectar of the tea flowers exceeded that of the honey. Caffeine was detected (but no catechins) in both the honey and the nectar of the tea flowers. Our results refute the previously held view that tea nectar is toxic to honeybees. Our new finding reveals that it is possible to obtain honey from the nectar of tea flowers. The obtained honey and the nectar of tea flowers contained a very rare amino acid, theanine, indicating that the honey was derived from tea flowers. Furthermore, the nectar of tea flower contained the best caffeine concentration that activated the brain function of honeybees to produce the honey.

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