Can Bottled Tea Brewing Be Simplified Using Spectrophotometry?

Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world second only to water. Since it is so widely demanded many distributors who want to pre-brew and bottled tea beverages have been seeking to ensure consistency in quality and classification. Complicating this determination are the many varieties of tea like green, white, yellow, oolong, and the standard black.

Incredibly, all tea types come from two varieties of the same tea plant, small leaf and broadleaf. Similar to coffee beans, the quality of the tea is determined by the environment the tea plants were grown in and the judgment of the tea maker who makes the final decision on when to pluck the tea and how to process it. After harvesting, the type of tea is determined by the manner in which the leaves are processed. The type of processing creates antioxidant reactions and fermentation within the tea leaves. This creates theaflavins and thearubigins, the chemical components that determine how the tea tastes and what color the tea is. This highly complicated process makes maintaining the same quality and taste of mass-produced tea beverages very difficult.

It has been suggested that fluorescence spectroscopy be used to help classify and determine the quality of bottled pre-brewed teas. Using a spectrophotometer like the CM-3700A, they can evaluate the color of the tea being produced and ensure that throughout production the quality remains the same. A human sensory assessment like inspecting the color, or determining whether the tea has the correct smell, and checking the taste are still important aspects of determining tea quality but can be expensive and the results remain subjective. Even with many of the other more objective standards like gas chromatography, the problem of cost is still a major issue, which means that spectrophotometry would be an extremely useful cost-effective alternative.

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