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Geochemical Characterization of Tea Leaves (Camellia sinensis) and Soils for Provenance Studies based on Compositional Data Analysis

Pospiech, S.ORC
Provenance studies on tea (Camellia sinensis) are an important tool to reconstruct the origin of tea products. This thesis explores the potential of using solely the ionome (main and trace element concentrations) of tea shoot tips for provenance studies. The emphasize of the thesis is to find element subcompositions which are robust in respect to the various parameters of tea cultivation and production, such as the area, their soils, soil fertilizer and applications of foliar sprays, tea cultivars, plucking/harvesting techniques, manufacturing or leaf grade of the processed tea. For specific discrimination tasks these robust subcompositions can be combined with element subcompositions which are sensitive to one or several tea cultivation and production parameters. The data set consists of ca. 300 leaf and processed tea samples and ca. 130 soil samples. The sampling areas are located in Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiris in India, in Paraná and São Paulo in Brazil and in Uji and Shizuoka in Japan. All samples, plants and soils, had been treated with four acid digestion methods with HNO3, HCl, HClO4 and HF to achieve a total dissolution. The sample solutions had been analyzed by ICP-MS and ICP-OES. The element concentrations of the leaf and processed tea samples had been corrected for adhering (soil) particles. Hence, all statistical analysis are based on the corrected concentrations values of Al, Ba, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, Fe, K, La, Li, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Ni, P, Pb, Rb, S, Sb, Sc, Sr, Tl, Y and Zn. The element concentrations are converted into log-ratios by additive, centered or isometric log-ratio transformations prior to statistical analysis to avoid spurious correlations and to enhance the signal-noise ratio for e.g. the trace elements concentrations. The comparison of the geochemical composition of topsoils, subsoils, mature leaves, shoot tips and processed tea samples is used to establish for each element a qualitative index of robustness with respect to cultivation and production parameters. The elements with a high robustness are considered as very suitable for a provenance analysis without further knowledge about the tea samples. The thesis exemplary shows that with already small element subcompositions a good discrimination by geographical origin is possible if the elements are chosen in terms of their suitability for provenance studies of tea including their sensitivity in respect to specific parameters. The geological source rocks of the tea plantations is one of the major factors for discrimination of tea origin.
Keywords: tea; Camellia sinensis; compositional data; soil-plant interaction; plant analysis; plant ionom; provenance; Darjeeling
  • Doctoral thesis
    Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 2019
    Mentor: Prof. H. Ruppert
    267 Seiten

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Publ.-Id: 30674