Analysis of metabolic markers of tea origin by UHPLC and high resolution mass spectrometry
Author: Karl Fraser and Geoff A. Lane and Don E. Otter and Yacine Hemar and Siew-Young Quek and Scott J. Harrison and Susanne Rasmussen
Tea is an infusion made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis L. and is the second most consumed beverage in the world. It has been shown that factors such as fermentation methods, cultivar, geographical origin and season can affect the biochemical composition of tea. In this study, the biochemical composition of green, oolong and black commercial tea samples from around the world was studied using a non-targeted method utilising reversed phase ultra high pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC) and high resolution mass spectrometry. Principal component analysis of green, oolong and black tea extracts clearly showed that fermented tea can be resolved from non-fermented tea. When the non-targeted data were combined with the supervised multivariate technique, partial least squares discriminant analysis, the method was able to clearly distinguish ‘country of origin’ within green tea and to a lesser extent within a black tea sample set, plus provide indicative marker ions for the country of origin. Many of the significant components detected in this study are unknowns, emphasising the importance of un-biased non-targeted analytical techniques. This study highlights the potential efficacy of non-targeted UHPLC–mass spectrometry when combined with multivariate statistics to differentiate fermented from non-fermented tea and provide potential indicators of provenance of tea samples for further examination.