Evaluation of Tropane Alkaloids in Teas and Herbal Infusions: Effect of Brewing Time and Temperature on Atropine and Scopolamine Content
Atropine and scopolamine belong to the tropane alkaloid (TA) family of natural toxins. They can contaminate teas and herbal teas and appear in infusions. Therefore, this study focused on analyzing atropine and scopolamine in 33 samples of tea and herbal tea infusions purchased in Spain and Portugal to determine the presence of these compounds in infusions brewed at 97 °C for 5 min. A rapid microextraction technique (µSPEed®) followed by high-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC–MS/MS) was used to analyze the selected TAs. The results showed that 64% of the analyzed samples were contaminated by one or both toxins. White and green teas were generally more contaminated than black and other herbal teas. Of the 21 contaminated samples, 15 had concentrations above the maximum limit for liquid herbal infusions (0.2 ng/mL) set by Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/1408. In addition, the effects of heating conditions (time and temperature) on atropine and scopolamine standards and naturally contaminated samples of white, green, and black teas were evaluated. The results showed that at the concentrations studied (0.2 and 4 ng/mL), there was no degradation in the standard solutions. Brewing with boiling water (decoction) for 5 and 10 min allowed for higher extraction of TAs from dry tea to infusion water.
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