Determination of nicotine in tea (Camellia sinensis) by LC–ESI–MS/MS using a modified QuEChERS method


In this work, a method for qualification and quantification of nicotine in dry tea and tea infusions with LC–ESI–MS/MS has been developed. Sample preparation is based on QuEChERS. Nicotine-d4 served as internal standard. This simple and fast method leads to recoveries of 95–104 % and good repeatability. Coefficients of variation are 3.7 % for intra-day precision and 4.6 % for inter-day precision. Limit of quantification (5.9 µg kg−1) is below the requested value of 10 µg kg−1. For some samples, it was superior to use a HILIC column compared with the originally used RP-18. Application to real samples (n = 87) showed nicotine concentrations in dry tea from <0.01 to 1.95 mg kg−1. In brewing studies of green teas and black teas, it was confirmed that the extraction of nicotine into tea brews was between 49 and 52 % for a steeping time of 5 min.

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This research project was supported by the German Ministry of Economics and Technology (via AiF) and the FEI (Forschungskreis der Ernährungsindustrie e.V., Bonn), Project AiF 16508 N. The support of the German Tea Association (Deutscher Teeverband e.V.) and the German Herbal Infusions Association (Wirtschaftsvereinigung Kräuter- und Früchtetee e.V.) is gratefully acknowledged.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.

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Correspondence to Claudia Thräne.

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Thräne, C., Isemer, C. & Engelhardt, U.H. Determination of nicotine in tea (Camellia sinensis) by LC–ESI–MS/MS using a modified QuEChERS method. Eur Food Res Technol 241, 227–232 (2015) doi:10.1007/s00217-015-2447-5

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  • Nicotine
  • Tea
  • QuEChERS