Food Analytical Methods

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 1690–1698 | Cite as

Determination of Biogenic Amines in Pu-erh Tea with Precolumn Derivatization by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography

  • Nian-Yuan Shen
  • Si-Yuan Zheng
  • Xiu-Qin WangEmail author


In recent years, Pu-erh tea is popular around the world particularly due to its special health benefits. However, biogenic amines and their safe concentration in Pu-erh tea have not been fully studied. Therefore, we selected 28 kinds of Pu-erh tea from Yunnan Province, China, to determine methylamine, ethylamine, tryptamine, putrescine, cadaverine, histamine, tyramine, and spermidine contents. The analytical method involved an extraction with hydrogen chloride solution, precolumn derivatization of the amines with dansyl chloride, and subsequent analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography with UV detection. The relative correlation coefficient of this method was greater than 99%. Limits of detection were found between 0.2 and 1.1 μg/L. Recovery rates varied from 85 to 104%. Relative standard deviations were below 5%. Additionally, this study measured the concentrations of eight biogenic amines in Pu-erh tea using pure water extractions. The predominant amines in Pu-erh teas are methylamine, ethylamine, and tryptamine. The quantities of biogenic amines in the Pu-erh teas analyzed did not exceed established international safety limits for other food or beverages, and thus, Pu-erh teas appear to be safe to drink in this respect.


High-performance liquid chromatography Biogenic amines Pu-erh tea Food safety Analysis 



This work was supported by Yunnan Innovation Science and Technology Commission (No. 5163006). This research was also supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants Nos. 30871698, 31372036, and 31071764). We also sincerely thank Professor Christian E. Butzke at Nelson Hall of Food Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette IN 47907, here for revising our manuscript linguistically.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 30871698, 31372036, and 31071764).

Conflict of Interest

Nian-Yuan Shen declares that she has no conflict of interest. Si-Yuan Zheng declares that she has no conflict of interest. Xiu-Qin Wang declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies performed by any of the authors that involved human participants or animals.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Food Science and Nutritional EngineeringChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina

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