Black tea volatiles fingerprinting by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography – Mass spectrometry combined with high concentration capacity sample preparation techniques: Toward a fully automated sensomic assessment

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Authors: Federico Magagna, Chiara Cordero, Cecilia Cagliero, Erica Liberto, Patrizia Rubiolo, Barbara Sgorbini, Carlo Bicchi


Tea prepared by infusion of dried leaves of Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze, is the second world’s most popular beverage, after water. Its consumption is associated with its chemical composition: it influences its sensory and nutritional quality addressing consumer preferences, and potential health benefits.

This study aims to obtain an informative chemical signature of the volatile fraction of black tea samples from Ceylon by applying the principles of sensomics. In particular, several high concentration capacity (HCC) sample preparation techniques were tested in combination with GC × GC–MS to investigate chemical signatures of black tea volatiles. This platform, using headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) with multicomponent fiber as sampling technique, recovers 95% of the key-odorants in a fully automated work-flow. A group 123 components, including key-odorants, technological and botanical tracers, were mapped. The resulting 2D fingerprints were interpreted by pattern recognition tools (i.e. template matching fingerprinting and scripting) providing highly informative chemical signatures for quality assessment.

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