DOI: 10.3390/molecules28176396 ISSN:

Fluoride and Aluminium in Tea (Camellia sinensis L.)—Tea Quality Indicators and Risk Factors for Consumers

Anja Pavlovič, Gašper Tavčar, Maja Ponikvar-Svet
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmaceutical Science

In recent years, the quality and sourcing of tea have gained importance in Europe, but information remains scarce. The aim of this study was to determine the concentrations of fluoride (F–) and total aluminium (Al) species in infusions of commercially available teas in Slovenia, and thus in Europe, and to relate them to tea quality and their impact on consumer safety. F– concentrations were determined using a fluoride-ion-selective electrode and Al concentrations using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy. A comparison of the results obtained for four selected tea samples using the calibration curve and a standard addition technique showed good agreement, with no interferences caused by the sample matrix. The concentrations of 35 commercial teas ranged from 0.34 to 4.79 and 0.51 to 8.90 mg/L for F– and Al, respectively. The average concentrations of the two elements followed the same descending order: black filter > green filter > black leaves ≈ green leaves. Single and multivariate statistical methods supported the categorisation of teas by packaging but not by type, with tea in filter bags being more expensive than loose tea. The linear relationship between F– and Al concentrations in infusions (C(Al) = 1.2134 · C(F–)) allows for the determination of one element and estimation of the other, leading to a significant reduction in laboratory effort and cost. This research advances tea assessment by proposing Al concentration alongside F– as a quality indicator and provides the basis for tea-monitoring protocols. Finally, the daily consumption of larger quantities of tea (≈1 L) with elevated F– and Al concentrations could potentially pose a health risk.

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