Can Bottled Tea Brewing Be Simplified Using Spectrophotometry?

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world second only to water. Since it is so widely demanded many distributors who pre-brew and bottle tea beverages, such as Iced Tea or cold Green Tea, look to ensure consistency in color 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 color 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 of 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 the color of the tea. This highly complicated process makes maintaining the same color and taste quality of mass-produced tea beverages very difficult.

By using a spectrophotometer like the CM-5, quality control professionals can evaluate the color of the tea being produced and ensure that throughout production the color quality remains the same. A human sensory assessment like inspecting the color, taste or smell 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 cost is a major issue, which means that spectrophotometry would be an extremely useful cost-effective alternative.

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