Impact of light irradiation on black tea quality during withering

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Black tea manufacture usually involves the processes of withering, cutting, fermentation and drying. The aim of present study was to evaluate the effect of the relationship between the quality and withering with different light sources (ultraviolet, yellow, blue, purple, orange, red, cyan, green and white) an quality attribute of tea. The results indicated that the yellow, orange and red light withering significantly improved the aroma and taste, imparting the tea a sweet flavor and a fresh and mellow taste. Tea treated with yellow light was scored highest the sensory scores and showed the highest content in catechins, theaflavins, amino acids and aroma components, followed by the orange and red light treatments. The black tea withered with ultraviolet light showed a strong astringency, probably resulting from low contents of theaflavins, amino acids and soluble sugar. The green light irradiation remarkably damaged the aroma and taste of the tea, leading to a strong greenish flavor and an astringent taste, probably owing to the lowest contents of chemical compositions. No significant cumulative effect was found in the hybrid light withering treatments. Therefore, monochromatic yellow, orange and red lights were suggested for withering the black tea to improve its overall quality.

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Fig. 1
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Ethylene diaminetetraacetic acid






Electron impact




Gas chromatography-mass spectrometer




High performance liquid chromatography


Reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


Simultaneous distillation and extraction








Theaflavin-3, 3′-digallate


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This study was supported by Key Projects in the National Science & Technology Pillar Program during the 25-year Plan Period (2012BAF07B05-2) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2662015PY136).

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yuqiong Chen.

Additional information

Zeyi Ai and Beibei Zhang have contributed equally to this work and should be considered co-first authors.

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Ai, Z., Zhang, B., Chen, Y. et al. Impact of light irradiation on black tea quality during withering. J Food Sci Technol 54, 1212–1227 (2017).

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  • Black tea
  • Withering
  • Light
  • Sensory quality
  • Chemical components