Sensory evaluation of the synergism among odorants present in concentrations below their odor threshold in a Chinese jasmine green tea infusion

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2005 Jan;49(1):61-8. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200400021.


The mechanism for the contribution of subthreshold aroma constituents to the overall jasmine tea odor impression was studied on the basis of a sensory evaluation. Binary model aqueous solutions containing the authentic odorants of a jasmine tea infusion, (E)-2-hexenyl hexanoate (I), (Z)-3-hexenol (II), and indole (III), were each prepared in a concentration below the odor threshold. Each solution had no aroma, but when 4-hexanolide replaced only 5% of each odorant, the odor intensity of each model solution was significantly strengthened. An astringent note and heavy note were recognized for each solution as the commonly perceived characteristics from the sensory evaluation. The concentration of 4-hexanolide added was also at the subthreshold level. The results suggest mutual interaction between odorants I, II, or III and 4-hexanolide. The effect on the overall odor sensation of a jasmine tea infusion by adding 4-hexanolide at a concentration below its odor threshold was also studied. In this case, the intensity of both the sweet and astringent notes was significantly strengthened in comparison with the odor impression of the original jasmine tea infusion. This phenomenon is considered to have been a synergistic effect between subthreshold odor compounds in the jasmine tea infusion. The results of this study clarify for the first time that the subthreshold aroma constituents play an important role in the characteristic flavor of a jasmine tea infusion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry
  • China
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Flowers / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Jasminum / chemistry*
  • Lactones / analysis
  • Lactones / chemistry
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Smell*
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Lactones
  • Tea
  • 4-hexanolide