Characterization of tea cultivated at four different altitudes using 1H NMR analysis coupled with multivariate statistics

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 May 25;59(10):5181-7. doi: 10.1021/jf200204y. Epub 2011 Apr 11.


The taste of black tea differs according to the different areas in which the tea is grown, even for the same species of tea. A combination of (1)H NMR spectroscopy and partial least-squares discriminate analysis (PLS-DA) was used to assess the quality differences of tea leaves from four cultivation areas with different elevations, RAN > 1800 m, UDA = 1200 m, MEDA = 600 m, and YATA < 300 m, in Sri Lanka. As a result of a statistical analysis, PLS-DA showed a separation between high- and low-quality black teas derived from the four different tea cultivation areas. RAN from the highest elevation showed characteristic trends in the levels of theaflavin and theaflavin 3,3'-digallate that were found only in RAN, and the levels of theanine and caffeine were higher, and the levels of thearubigins, especially thearubigin 3,3'-digallate, were lower in RAN than in UDA, MEDA, and YATA. The structures of these components were determined by 1D and 2D NMR analyses. These results demonstrate that this method can be used to evaluate black tea quality according to the chemical composition or metabolites, which are characteristic of the tea leaves cultivated in four regions with different elevations in Sri Lanka.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Altitude*
  • Biflavonoids / analysis
  • Caffeine / analysis
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry*
  • Camellia sinensis / growth & development*
  • Catechin / analysis
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Glutamates / analysis
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Quality Control
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Biflavonoids
  • Glutamates
  • Tea
  • theaflavin
  • Caffeine
  • theanine
  • Catechin