Skip to main content

Health Risk Assessment of Exposure to Trace Elements from Drinking Black and Green Tea Marketed in Three Countries


Although tea can be beneficial for our health, consuming excess trace elements in tea can be harmful. In this study, the carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic health risk for trace elements in tea influenced by the country of origin, tea type, and infusion process was assessed. Tea (Camellia sinensis) purchased from China, India, and the USA, including black and green tea, were analyzed for essential micronutrients (Cu, Se, and Zn) and nonessential trace elements (Ag, As, Ba, Cd, Cr, and Pb) in leaves and three types of infusions. The results showed that country of origin, tea type, and infusion process had a significant influence on the trace element contents in tea leaves and infusions, also on health risk. Country of origin had a significant influence on Ba, Cr, Pb, and Zn contents in tea leaves and on As, Ba, Cd, Cr, Pb, and Zn contents in tea infusions. Black tea had significantly higher (p < 0.05) Cr and Cu content in tea leaves than green tea, but only Cr content was significantly higher (p < 0.05) than that of green tea in tea infusion. The trace element contents were the highest in the first infusion and decreased as the number of infusion steps increased. The results showed that the consumption of tea infusion was not likely to cause noncarcinogenic risk. However, the carcinogenic risk for As was of concern. Our results indicate that avoiding drinking the first infusion can help to reduce both carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic health risks for trace elements.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Availability of Data and Material

The data that support the findings of this study are available in Mendeley Data,

Code Availability

(Software application or custom code): N/A.


  1. Abd El-Aty AM, Choi JH, Rahman MM, Kim SW, Tosun A, Shim JH (2014) Residues and contaminants in tea and tea infusions: a review. Food Addit Contam A 31(11):1794–1804.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Árvay J, Hauptvogl M, Tomáš J, Harangozo L (2015) Determination of mercury, cadmium and lead contents in different tea and teas infusions (Camellia sinensis, L.). Potravinarstvo 9:398–402.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Barman T, Barooah AK, Goswami BC, Sharma N, Panja S, Khare P, & Karak T (2019) Contents of chromium and arsenic in tea (Camellia sinensis L.): extent of transfer into tea infusion and health consequence. Biol Trace Elem Res.

  4. Barone G, Giacominelli-Stuffler R, Storelli MM (2016) Evaluation of trace metal and polychlorinated biphenyl levels in tea brands of different origin commercialized in Italy. Food Chem Toxicol 87:113–119.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Bedford E (2020) Main import countries for tea worldwide 2018. Statista.

  6. Brzezicha-Cirocka J, Grembecka M, & Szefer P (2016) Monitoring of essential and heavy metals in green tea from different geographical origins. Environ Monit Assess 188(3).

  7. Cao H, Qiao L, Zhang H, Chen J (2010) Exposure and risk assessment for aluminium and heavy metals in Puerh tea. Sci Total Environ 408(14):2777–2784.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Chowaniak M, Niemiec M, Zhiqiang Z, Rashidov N, Gródek-Szostak Z, Szeląg-Sikora A, ... & Gambuś F (2021) Quality assessment of wild and cultivated green tea from different regions of China. Molecules 26(12):3620

  9. Das S, de Oliveira LM, da Silva E, Liu Y, Ma LQ (2017) Fluoride concentrations in traditional and herbal teas: health risk assessment. Environ Pollut 231:779–784.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. de Oliveira LM, Das S, da Silva EB, Gao P, Gress J, Liu Y, Ma LQ (2018) Metal concentrations in traditional and herbal teas and their potential risks to human health. Sci Total Environ 633:649–657.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. EPA US (1996) Method 3050B: acid digestion of sediments, sludges, and soils. Washington, DC: Environmental Protection Agency

  12. Erdemir US (2018) Contribution of tea (Camellia sinensis L.) to recommended daily intake of Mg, Mn, and Fe: an in vitro bioaccessibility assessment. J Food Compos Anal 69:71–77

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Fang J, Sureda A, Silva AS, Khan F, Xu S, Nabavi SM (2019) Trends of tea in cardiovascular health and disease: a critical review. Trends Food Sci Technol 88(March):385–396.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. FAO (2020) FAOSTAT. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

  15. Fowle JR, & Dearfield KL (2000) Science policy council handbook: risk characterization handbook. Washington DC: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  16. Fung KF, Zhang ZQ, Wong JWC, Wong MH (1999) Fluoride contents in tea and soil from tea plantations and the release of fluoride into tea liquor during infusion. Environ Pollut 104(2):197–205.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Ghuniem MM (2019) Assessment of the potential health risk of heavy metal exposure from the consumption of herbal, black and green tea. Biomed J Sci Tech Res 16(1):11810–11817.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Han W-Y, Zhao F-J, Shi Y-Z, Ma L-F, Ruan J-Y (2006) Scale and causes of lead contamination in Chinese tea. Environ Pollut 139:125–132.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Heshmati A, Mehri F, Karami-Momtaz J, Khaneghah AM (2020) The concentration and health risk of potentially toxic elements in black and green tea—both bagged and loose-leaf. Qual Assur Saf Crops Foods 12(3):140–150

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Hunter PR, & Fewtrell L (2001) Acceptable risk. In Fewtrell L & Bartram J (Eds.), Water Quality: Guidelines, Standards and Health (pp. 207–227). IWA Publishing.

  21. JECFA (2000) Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants

  22. Karak T, Bhagat RM (2010) Trace elements in tea leaves, made tea and tea infusion: a review. Food Res Int 43(9):2234–2252.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Karak T, Paul RK, Kutu FR, Mehra A, Khare P, Dutta AK, Bora K, Boruah RK (2017) Comparative assessment of copper, iron, and zinc contents in selected Indian (Assam) and South African (Thohoyandou) tea (Camellia sinensis L.) samples and their infusion: a quest for health risks to consumer. Biol Trace Elem Res 175(2):475–487.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Khan N, Mukhtar H (2018) Tea polyphenols in promotion of human health. Nutrients 11(1):39.

    Article  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. La Pera L, Dugo G, Rando R, Di Bella G, Maisano R, Salvo F (2008) Statistical study of the influence of fungicide treatments (mancozeb, zoxamide and copper oxychloride) on heavy metal concentrations in Sicilian red wine. Food Addit Contam A 25:302–313

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Li W, Zhou H, Li N, Wang S, Liu X, Jin ZJ, Bu YZ, Liu ZX (2013) Chromium level and intake from Chinese made tea. Food Addit Contam Part B Surveill 6(4):289–293.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Li L, Fu QL, Achal V, Liu Y (2015) A comparison of the potential health risk of aluminum and heavy metals in tea leaves and tea infusion of commercially available green tea in Jiangxi, China. Environ Monit Assess 187(5):1–12.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Li L, Wen B, Zhang X, Zhao Y, Duan Y, Song X, Ren S, Wang Y, Fang W, Zhu X (2018) Geographical origin traceability of tea based on multi-element spatial distribution and the relationship with soil in district scale. Food Control 90:18–28.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Lin T, Yang X (2016) Leaching and in vitro bio accessibility of aluminium from different teas. Integ Food Nutr Metab 3(5):431–435.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Long VD (1977) Aqueous extraction of black leaf tea. Int J Food Sci Technol 12(5):459–472.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Matsuura H, Hokura A, Katsuki F, Itoh A, Haraguchi H (2001) Multielement determination and speciation of major-totrace elements in black tea leaves by ICP-AES and ICP-MS with the aid of size exclusion chromatography. Anal Sci 17:391–398.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Mckenzie JS, Jurado M, De Pablos F (2010) Characterisation of tea leaves according to their total mineral content by means of probabilistic neural networks. Food Chem 123:859–864.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. Mehra A, Baker CL (2007) Leaching and bioavailability of aluminium, copper and manganese from tea (Camellia sinensis). Food Chem 100:1456–1463.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. Milani RF, Morgano MA, Cadore S (2016) Trace elements in Camellia sinensis marketed in southeastern Brazil: extraction from tea leaves to beverages and dietary exposure. LWT Food Sci Technol 68:491–498.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. Milani RF, Sanches VL, Morgano MA, Cadore S (2020) Trace elements in ready-to-drink ice tea: total content, in vitro bioaccessibility and risk assessment. Food Res Int 137:109732.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Moghaddam MA, Mahvi AH, Asgari AR, Yonesian M, Jahed G, Nazmara S (2008) Determination of aluminum and zinc in Iranian consumed tea. Environ Monit Assess 144(1–3):23–30

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. Ngeles Herrador MÁ & González AG (2001) Pattern recognition procedures for differentiation of green, black and oolong teas according to their metal content from inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. Talanta (Vol. 53).

  38. Polechońska L, Dambiec M, Klink A, Rudecki A (2015) Concentrations and solubility of selected trace metals in leaf and bagged black teas commercialized in Poland. J Food Drug Anal 23(3):486–492.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Pourramezani F, Akrami Mohajeri F, Salmani MH, Dehghani Tafti A, Khalili Sadrabad E (2019) Evaluation of heavy metal concentration in imported black tea in Iran and consumer risk assessments. Food Sci Nutr 7(12):4021–4026.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  40. Schwalfenberg G, Genuis SJ, & Rodushkin I (2013) The benefits and risks of consuming brewed tea: beware of toxic element contamination. J Toxicol 2013.

  41. Shekoohiyan S, Ghoochani M, Mohagheghian A, Mahvi AH, Yunesian M, Nazmara S (2012) Determination of lead, cadmium and arsenic in infusion tea cultivated in north of Iran. J Environ Health Sci Eng 9(1):1–6

    Google Scholar 

  42. Shen F-M, Chen H-W (2008) Element composition of tea leaves and tea infusions and its impact on health. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 80(3):300–304

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  43. Sofuoglu SC, Kavcar P (2008) An exposure and risk assessment for fluoride and trace metals in black tea. J Hazard Mater 158:392–400.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Sun J, Hu G, Liu K, Yu R, Lu Q, Zhang Y (2019) Potential exposure to metals and health risks of metal intake from Tieguanyin tea production in Anxi, China. Environ Geochem Health 41(3):1291–1302

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  45. Szymczycha-Madeja A, Welna M, Pohl P (2012) Elemental analysis of teas and their infusions by spectrometric methods. TrAC Trends Anal Chem 35:165–181.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. Tang GY, Meng X, Gan RY, Zhao CN, Liu Q, Feng YB, Li S, Wei XL, Atanasov AG, Corke H, Li HB (2019) Health functions and related molecular mechanisms of tea components: an update review. Int J Mol Sci 20(24):6196. MDPI AG

    Article  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  47. USEPA (1992) Guidelines for exposure assessment. In Guidelines for Exposure Assessment.

  48. USEPA (1999) Guidance for performing aggregate exposure and risk assessments. Office of Pesticide Programs Washington, DC

  49. USEPA (2019) Integrated Risk Information System.

  50. WHO (2020) Chromium in drinking-water. World Health Organization

  51. Wong MH, Zhang ZQ, Wong JWC, Lan CY (1998) Trace metal contents (Al, Cu and Zn) of tea: tea and soil from two tea plantations, and tea products from different provinces of China. Environ Geochem Health 20(2):87–94

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  52. Yuan C, Gao E, He B, Jiang G (2007) Arsenic species and leaching characters in tea (Camellia sinensis). Food Chem Toxicol 45(12):2381–2389.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. Zhang J, Yang R, Chen R, Peng Y, Wen X, & Gao L (2018a) Accumulation of heavy metals in tea leaves and potential health risk assessment: a case study from Puan County, Guizhou Province, China. Int J Environ Res Public Health 15(1).

  54. Zhang L, Zhang J, Chen L, Liu T, Ma G, Liu X (2018b) Influence of manufacturing process on the contents of iron, copper, chromium, nickel and manganese elements in crush, tear and curl black tea, their transfer rates and health risk assessment. Food Control 89:241–249.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


Start-up fund to D.S. from Stevens Institute of Technology is acknowledged for funding this study.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Viravid Na Nagara: data analysis, data visualization, writing of the original draft. DibyenduSarkar: conceptualization, methodology, funding acquisition, supervision, data analysis, writing, reviewing, and editing. Qingzi Luo: investigation, data collection. Rupali Datta: data analysis, writing, reviewing, and editing. Jayanta Kumar Biswas: writing, reviewing, and editing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dibyendu Sarkar.

Ethics declarations

Ethics Approval

No approval of research ethics committees was required to accomplish the goals of this study, as the experiments included analytical work only.

Consent to Participate

No consent to participate is required as no human subjects were involved in this study.

Consent for Publication

No consent for publication is required as no human subjects were involved in this study.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (DOCX 463 KB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Na Nagara, V., Sarkar, D., Luo, Q. et al. Health Risk Assessment of Exposure to Trace Elements from Drinking Black and Green Tea Marketed in Three Countries . Biol Trace Elem Res 200, 2970–2982 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: