BACKGROUND: Tea is the second most consumed drink in the UK and a primary source of hydration; it is an important source of dietary fluoride (F) for consumers and also abundant in aluminium (Al). Varying ranges of F concentrations in teas have been reported worldwide which may be, in part, due to differences in analytical techniques used to measure this ion.
AIM: The effect of using total ionic adjustment buffers (TISAB) III or IV when measuring F concentration of black teas available in the UK was investigated and compared. Based on this evaluation, the effects of three different infusion times, 1 min, 10 min and 1 h, caffeine content and tea form on the F contents of the tea samples were investigated.
METHODS: The F concentrations of 47 tea samples were measured directly using a fluoride ion-selective electrode (F-ISE), TISAB III and IV and infusion times of 1 min, 10 min and 1 h.
RESULTS: Mean (SD) F concentration of tea samples for all infusion times was statistically significantly higher ( p < 0.001) measured by TISAB IV (4.37 (2.16) mg/l) compared with TISAB III (3.54 (1.65) mg/l). A statistically significant positive correlation ( p < 0.001) was found between Al concentration (mg/l) and differences in F concentration (mg/l) measured using the two TISABs; the difference in F concentration measured by the two TISABs increased with the magnitude of Al concentration.
CONCLUSION: Due to higher concentrations of F and Al in teas and their complexing potential, use of TISAB IV facilitates more accurate measurement of F concentration when using an F-ISE and a direct method.