Study on taste characteristics and microbial communities in Pingwu Fuzhuan brick tea and the correlation between microbiota composition and chemical metabolites


Pingwu Fuzhuan brick tea (PWT) is considered the “Sichuan western road” border-selling tea. The taste and quality of Fuzhuan brick tea (FBT) is greatly influenced by microorganisms. Considering the dearth of studies on the taste and microbial community of PWT, this study aimed to investigate the taste characteristics using electronic tongue system and microbial community structures using high-throughput sequencing, followed by comparison with FBT from other regions and determining the correlation between microbial communities and chemical compositions. The taste strengths of sweetness, bitterness, umami and astringency in PWT were all at lower level compared to other regions FBT. Regarding microbial diversity, the fungal communities in PWT were distinct from those of other regions FBT in terms of taxonomic composition and abundance. Unclassified_k_Fungi and Aspergillus were the most dominant fungal genera in PWT. Candidatus_Microthrix, norank_f_Saprospiraceae, and norank_c_C10-SB1A were dominant bacterial genera in PWT, only distinct from those in Hunan FBT (HNT). Principal component analysis results showed that fungal or bacterial community structures of PWT and other regions FBT were distinctly different. Correlation analysis revealed important links between the top 50 microbial populations and metabolites.

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Data availability

The data that supports the findings of this study are available in the supplementary material of this article.

Code availability

The application of software had mentioned in materials and methods section of the manuscript.



Pingwu Fuzhuan brick tea


Fuzhuan brick tea


Hunan Fuzhuan brick tea


Shaanxi Fuzhuan brick tea


Guizhou Fuzhuan brick tea


Polymerase chain reaction denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis


Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism


Phosphate buffered saline


Operational taxonomic units


Principal component analysis


γ-Aminobutyric acid


Gallic acid


Epicatechin gallate








Epigallocatechin gallate


Total essential amino acids


Total non-essential amino acids


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Thanks are due to Jin-Rong Bai for assistance with the experiments and to Yan-Ping Wu for valuable discussion.


This work was supported by funds of science and technology plan project of Sichuan province of China (No. 2020YFG0073).

Author information




M-YL: Conceptualization, Methodology, Visualization, Investigation, Writing—Original Draft; YX: Resources, Data Curation, Investigation, Visualization; KZ: Validation, Supervision; HG: Funding acquisition, Project administration, Writing—Review & Editing.

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Correspondence to Hong Gao.

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Li, MY., Xiao, Y., Zhong, K. et al. Study on taste characteristics and microbial communities in Pingwu Fuzhuan brick tea and the correlation between microbiota composition and chemical metabolites. J Food Sci Technol (2021).

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  • Pingwu Fuzhuan brick tea
  • Taste characteristics
  • Electronic tongue
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • Fungal community
  • Bacterial community