Flavour & Function

“If you’re after an antioxidant-rich tea without caffeine[i] or a bitter taste before bed, look into lemon myrtle” – Lisa Yates, Adv. APD

Australian Native Products has been working with Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian Lisa Yates this year to complete a research summary of the growing body of scientific research on Australian lemon myrtle.
We sat down with Lisa to find out what surprised her most about this Australian native botanical, and why interest in it as ingredient for tea blends is growing worldwide.

Lisa, we are seeing more and more consumers both in Australia and internationally discovering the unique flavour of lemon myrtle in foods and drinks. How would you describe the flavour?

Lemon myrtle leaves have an incredibly aromatic and complex lemon flavour profile. Australian research has found lemon myrtle flavour can be described as a strong lemon flavour with some sweetness and cooling on the palate, with refreshing intense citrus notes[i].
When dried into a tea, the flavour becomes a full-bodied, and these sensory scientists found study volunteers preferred the flavour and taste of lemon myrtle tea over popular green tea. Lemon myrtle tea is a refreshing citrus tea that tastes and smells like the Australian bush. It’s the taste of Australia in a tea cup.

You’ve recently reviewed the current research into lemon myrtle; what do you think is its number one selling point apart from its distinctive lemon flavour?

Lemon myrtle has impressive antioxidants, and for herbal tea drinkers, a lemon myrtle blend could be a better option than other herbal infusions thanks to its high antioxidant content.[ii]
The research shows lemon myrtle tea has more antioxidants that many other herbal teas and a similar level to black tea. There is real potential here for the lemon myrtle dried leaf and powder to be used in new tea blends not just for flavour but for health benefits too.

How does it compare to other lemon flavourings?

Lemon myrtle has the highest amount of citral of other lemon scented herbals.[iii] Citral is the compound that gives lemons, lemongrass and lemon verbena their lemony aromatic quality, and is one of the key bioactives that delivers lemon myrtle’s functional benefits.

Citral is a interesting antioxidant[iv] that preliminary research has shown may have anti-inflammatory effects[v] that may also influence metabolic health by reducing the growth and development of fat cells[vi].
There’s so much to learn about this unique compound from lemon myrtle and its impact on the body – we are at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to citral.”

What do you think is the biggest area for future research?

For me, an exciting area of new research could be looking at the relationship between citral and the gut microbiome.
There has been a positive animal study that showed citral had a positive effect on mouse gut bacteria[vii]  but there haven’t been any human studies yet. There are so many exciting new insights we’re learning about the gut microbiome and with lemon myrtle’s high citral content, it would be fascinating to learn more about its potential effects.

To find out more about how you can incorporate lemon myrtle into your products, please get in touch with our team at sale@australiannativeproducts.com.au

[i] RIRDC Nirmal N and Sultanbawa Y. Biochemical composition and sensory evaluation of Lemon myrtle and Anise myrtle tea infusion. May 2016. RIRDC – Research Project No. PRJ 009594 Lemon and Anise Myrtle: Functional Ingredients for Cross-Industry Applications. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328478745_Biochemical_and_functional_properties_of_indigenous_Australian_herbal_infusions https://www.agrifutures.com.au/related-projects/lemon-and-anise-myrtle-functional-ingredients-in-cross-industry-applications/

[ii] Chan EWC et al. Antioxidant properties of tropical and temperate herbal teas. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 2010;23:185–189

[iii] Southwell IA, Russell M, Smith RL, et al. Backhousia citriodora F. Muell (Myrtaceae) A superior source of citral. J Essent. Oils. Res 2000;12:735-41. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10412905.2000.9712204

[iv] Sharma S, Gupta J, Habib S, Sahu D. Chemical properties and therapeutic potential of citral, a monoterpene isolated from lemongrass. Med Chem. 2019 Dec 26. doi: 10.2174/1573406416666191227111106. [Epub ahead of print]

[v] Gonçalves ECD, Assis PM, Junqueira LA, et al. Citral Inhibits the Inflammatory Response and Hyperalgesia in Mice: The Role of TLR4, TLR2/Dectin-1, and CB2 Cannabinoid Receptor/ATP-Sensitive K+ Channel Pathways. J Nat Prod. 2020 Apr 24;83(4):1190-1200.. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b01134.

[vi] Sri Devi S, Ashokkumar N. Citral, a Monoterpene Inhibits Adipogenesis Through Modulation of Adipogenic Transcription Factors in 3T3-L1 Cells. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2018 Oct;33(4):414-421. doi: 10.1007/s12291-017- 0692-z. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6170238

[vii] Wang L, Zhang Y, Fan G, et al. Effects of orange essential oil on intestinal microflora in mice. J Sci Food Agric. 2019 Jun;99(8):4019-4028. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.9629. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30729524

[i] Chan EWC et al. Antioxidant properties of tropical and temperate herbal teas. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 2010;23:185–189