Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2018 Apr 9;13(4):e0195422.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195422. eCollection 2018.

Quantitative Validation of Nicotine Production in Tea (Camellia Sinensis L.)

Free PMC article

Quantitative Validation of Nicotine Production in Tea (Camellia Sinensis L.)

Takashi Ikka et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Endogenous nicotine was confirmed to be present in tea plants (Camellia sinensis L.) by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry of tea samples from tea-producing regions in six Asian countries. All samples contained nicotine (0.011-0.694 μg g-1 dry weight). Nicotine contents remained constant during manufacturing of green, oolong and black teas, implying that nicotine is stable against heating, drying, enzymatic oxidation and mechanical damage during processing. Flower buds and seeds of cultivar Yabukita also contained nicotine (0.030-0.041 μg g-1 dry weight). A comparison of two cultivars revealed that higher nicotine contents were found in the black tea cultivar Benifuki. All plant parts of hydroponic Yabukita contained nicotine (0.003-0.013 μg g-1 dry weight). Tea cells cultured in B5 medium as well as roots and stems of tea seedlings contained nicotine levels similar to those of new leaves from field-grown plants. Although the levels of endogenous nicotine in tea plants are extremely low and sample contamination cannot be discounted, these levels exceed the maximum acceptable limit in Japan (0.01 μg g-1 dry weight).

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: Authors KT, NH, HH, and FN are affiliated with and received salary from a commercial company, Mitsui Norin Co., Ltd. There are no patents, products in development or marketed products to declare. This does not alter our adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

Similar articles

See all similar articles


    1. Lee KW, Lee HJ, Lee CY. Antioxidant activity of black tea versus green tea. J Nutr Edu. 2002; 132(4): 785. - PubMed
    1. Cabrera C, Artacho R, Giménez R. Beneficial effects of green tea—a review. J Am Col Nutr. 2006; 25(2): 79–99. - PubMed
    1. International Tea Committee (ITC). International Tea Committee: Annual Bulletin of Statistics. International Tea Committee, Ltd. 2015.
    1. European food Safety Authority (EFSA). Setting of temporary MRLs for nicotine in tea, herbal infusions, spices, rose hips and fresh herbs. EFSA Journal 2011; 9(3): 50.
    1. Sheen SJ. Detection of nicotine in foods and plant materials. J Food Sci. 1988; 53(5): 1572–1573.

Publication types

Grant support

This work was supported by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research Number 26292010 (AM) and 17H03756 (AM). We carried out this research entirely through public research funds in Japan (JSPS KAKENHI). We did not receive financial assistance for this study from the relevant private company (Mitsui Norin Co. Ltd); Mitsui Norin Co. Ltd provided salaries for authors KT, NH, HH and FN. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the 'author contributions' section. The funders also did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.