To explore the volatile profiles and the contents of ten bioactive components (polyphenols and caffeine) of sun-dried Pu-erh tea leaves from ancient tea plants on Bulang Mountain, 17 samples of three tea varieties were analyzed by headspace-solid phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). A total of 75 volatile components were tentatively identified. Laomaner (LME), Laobanzhang (LBZ), and other teas on Bulang Mountain (BL) contained 70, 53, and 71 volatile compounds, respectively. Among the volatile compounds, alcohols (30.2%–45.8%), hydrocarbons (13.7%–17.5%), and ketones (12.4%–23.4%) were qualitatively the most dominant volatile compounds in the different tea varieties. The average content of polyphenol was highest in LME (102.1 mg/g), followed by BL (98.7 mg/g) and LBZ (88.0 mg/g), while caffeine showed the opposite trend, 27.3 mg/g in LME, 33.5 mg/g in BL, and 38.1 mg/g in LBZ. Principal component analysis applied to both the volatile compounds and ten bioactive components showed a poor separation of samples according to varieties, while partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) showed satisfactory discrimination. Thirty-four volatile components and five bioactive compounds were selected as major discriminators (variable importance in projection (VIP) >1) among the tea varieties. These results suggest that chromatographic data combined with multivariate analysis could provide a useful technique to characterize and distinguish the sun-dried Pu-erh tea leaves from ancient tea varieties on Bulang Mountain.
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