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Journal of Food Engineering 82 (2007) 276–283

Process technology for production of soluble tea powder

V.R. Sinija *, H.N. Mishra, S. Bal
Post Harvest Technology Centre, Agricultural & Food Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal 721 302, India

Received 22 November 2006; received in revised form 27 January 2007; accepted 29 January 2007
Available online 8 February 2007


Instant tea is presently manufactured by spray/freeze drying of the concentrated brew of processed tea leaves/dust and the drawbacks
of this method are inferior quality, high cost and energy. A novel technique has been developed for the production of instant/soluble tea
powder from the expressed juice of green leaves. After plucking, the leaves are crushed and juice pressed out. The juice is then subjected
to fermentation under specified conditions. The fermented juice is steamed, centrifuged and freeze-dried to get instant tea powder. The
pressed leaf residue is subjected to fermentation and drying for preparation of tea granules. The instant tea produced is of good liquoring
characteristics and various constituents are also in the acceptable range [Theaflavin (TF) to Thearubigin (TR) ratio – 10.71 for instant tea
(IT) and 12.12 for tea granules (TG), Caffeine content 40.4 mg/cup of IT and 96 mg per cup of TG]. The tea granules produced is com-
parable to CTC (crushing, tearing & curling) tea in quality and liquoring characteristics. There is considerable savings in the economy as
the juice and residue are converted into value added products in this method.
Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Instant tea; Soluble tea; Beverages; Non-leaf tea products; Freeze-dried tea

1. Introduction gered by the consumption of tea, it has the potential to

be the beverage of the 21st century (Boriah, 1997).
Tea is one of the most pleasant and popular drinks con- There are a number of ways in which tea can be pre-
sumed by two-third of the world’s population. It is not pared, but usually it is made into black, green and oolong
only the most popular and one of the oldest known bever- tea. Instant tea, a product dried from tea infusion was first
ages in the world but also an antioxidative agent available produced in England, from black tea in 1940. Although its
in everyday life, which may help to prevent a wide variety production has been under study for a long time, instant
of diseases such as cancers and heart diseases (Luczaj & tea is the major problem facing the tea industry now a
Skrzydlewska, 2005; Yang, 2002). The tea industry in India day, with regard to both its production and acceptance
occupies an important place and plays a useful part in the (Wherkoven, 1974). Most of the existing methods for the
national economy. Today at the global level, India is not production of instant tea use hot water extraction. Hindu-
only the largest producer of tea but also one of the major stan Lever Limited has developed and patented a process
exporters of different forms of tea (Kidwai, 1999). Tea pro- for preparing instant green tea by heating the fresh leaf
cessing has had many incarnations over the last 100 years to a temperature sufficient to inactivate the enzymes and
from loose tea to blended, to packet teas, to tea bags and then the leaf is comminuted, extracted with hot water
finally to instant teas, ready-to-drink teas and flavored and dried by conventional means like spray-drying or
teas. As the penetrating vision of science and technology freeze-drying. Another method developed by the Tea
probes deeper the chemical and metabolic processes trig- Research Institute of Ceylon (Wickremasinghe, 1977) for
the production of cold water soluble tea concentrates and
powders in which tea leaves are extracted with hot water
Corresponding author. Tel.: +91 3222 281323; fax: +91 3222 282244. and the extract is subjected to gel filtration to effect the sep-
E-mail address: (V.R. Sinija). aration of non-phenolic compounds like chlorophylls, pro-

0260-8774/$ - see front matter Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
V.R. Sinija et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 82 (2007) 276–283 277

teins, polypeptides and polysaccharides, while retaining RH). During fermentation, oxygen gas was incorporated
polyphenolic compounds. Then resultant filtrate is concen- into the juice (0.5 m3/h). Fermentation was carried out
trated to obtain a cold water soluble powder. for different fermentation periods starting from 0.5 to
There are certain difficulties to be solved in producing 3 h. Under or over fermentation causes poor quality teas
instant tea, which would give a beverage comparable with (Owuor & Obanda, 2001; Wherkoven, 1974). Optimum
an ordinary tea infusion. The problems are connected with fermentation time can be found out by a method based
the liquoring characteristics, flavor or aroma and with tea on the amount of theaflavin formed during fermentation
quality itself. In the general method of extraction by boil- (Muthumani & Kumar, 2007). For this, samples were col-
ing water, the flavor of this product is generally poor. lected at 10 min interval during fermentation and the opti-
When hot infusion cools down, it becomes turbid and par- cal density values for these samples at 460 nm were
ticles settle down on prolonged cooling. This is called tea determined by a spectrophotometer (Spectronic Genesys
cream and decreaming is thus necessary, since it affects 2, Model No. CAT 33600902 SN3NE 9107006). Two sam-
the clarity and appearance of cold, water-soluble instant ples taken at each time interval were used to calculate the
tea. This can either be made soluble by chemical and enzy- mean optical density value corresponding to that time. The
mic means or discarded as a waste by physical means in the optimum fermentation time corresponds to the maximum
manufacture of instant tea. In addition to the quality prob- theaflavin production (Lakshminarayanan & Ramasw-
lems of instant tea like low aroma, poor taste and insuffi- amy, 1978).
cient cold-water solubility, low productivity is also one of In order to arrest the fermentation at the right time
the important problems remaining (Pintaro, 1977). More- steam at a pressure of 1–1.2 kg/cm2 (temperature 104–
over, when instant tea is made from prepared black tea, 106 °C) was introduced into the fermenting juice for
the process is highly expensive and at the same time energy 1 min. This increased the temperature of the juice to
intensive also (Schott, 1988). approximately 70–80 °C, which caused the inactivation of
This investigation was undertaken with the objectives of the enzymes responsible for the oxidation reactions. The
developing a new process technology for the preparation of juice was then subjected to centrifugation in a laboratory
soluble tea powder and optimizing the process parameters centrifuge (R-24 type) at 10,000 rpm for 20 min, to remove
involved during the different stages of production of instant the colloidal and other suspended solid particles, which
tea (IT). Efforts are also made to prepare black tea granules cause turbidity in the tea brew. Finally, the juice was
(TG) from pressed residues of leaves obtained after juice freeze-dried (6–8 h, Labconco FreeZone, Model 79480) to
extraction. IT having a final moisture content of 3–5% (w.b.)

2. Materials and methods 2.1. Preparation of black tea from residue

Fresh green top two leaves and the terminal bud of tea The pressed leaf residue was spread evenly (thickness
bush were plucked from the experimental farm of Agricul- not more than 1 cm) and kept under a fan at ambient con-
tural & Food Engineering Department, Indian Institute of ditions for different fermentation periods ranging from 0.5
Technology, Kharagpur, India. The weight of the fresh to 3 h. The samples were stirred intermittently to improve
leaves was determined by a laboratory balance with an incorporation of oxygen into the sample mass, which
accuracy of 0.01 g and the moisture content was measured enhanced the fermentation process. Optimum fermentation
by oven drying method (AOAC, 1995). time was determined in the same way as for IT samples.
Sequential steps involved in processing are given below. The fermented samples were then dried either by vacuum
Plucked leaves were crushed to a fine paste in a domestic drying (50 °C and 400 mm Hg for 16–19 h) or hot air dry-
mixer grinder (Sumeet brand). Experiments were carried ing (50 °C, 12–16 h) methods to get the tea granules. The
out for different crushing periods (1–4 min) at medium weight and the moisture content of the dried samples were
speed (2540 rpm) in order to find out the conditions for measured.
maximum juice recovery with maximum amount of poly- Estimation of total polyphenols was carried out with
phenols and total solids content. The crushed leaf (paste) Folin ciocalteau reagent. Phenols react with phosphomo-
samples were pressed in a laboratory press for the expres- lybdic acid in F.C. reagent in alkaline medium and pro-
sion of juice. The press consists of a cylinder and a screw duce a blue colored complex (Sadasivam & Manickam,
type piston with handle. A flat disc with holes was pro- 1996). Absorbance of the sample was measured at
vided at the bottom of the cylinder for sieving. The 760 nm and amount of polyphenols determined by using
amount of juice recovered, total solids (gravimetric gallic acid as standard. The method followed for the deter-
method, BIS 1981) and total polyphenols in juice were mination of caffeine was based on the extraction of caf-
measured by standard procedures. The weight, moisture feine using chloroform and measurement of its
content and the total polyphenols of the pressed leaf resi- absorbance in the UV region at 276.5 nm (Ranganna,
due were also determined. The juice as well as the pressed 1980). Hunterlab colorimeter was used to determine the
leaf residue samples was separately subjected to fermenta- color and percentage brightness of various samples and
tion under ambient conditions (30–32 °C and 80–85% thereby find out the amount required to produce a cup
278 V.R. Sinija et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 82 (2007) 276–283

of tea, which has the same percentage of brightness, and 3. Results and discussion
color values as that of the tea available in the market.
TF, TR and high polymeric substances (HPS) were deter- Experiments were carried out to standardize the process
mined by the method followed in tea industries (UPASI and to study the effect of various factors during different
Tea Science Department Bulletin, 1978). Tea brew was stages of processing, so as to find out the optimum operat-
prepared by mixing 4 g of made tea in 100 ml of distilled ing parameters. A process and material flow chart was
water taken in a 500 ml conical flask and heated in a boil- worked out for the manufacture of IT and TG, which is
ing water bath for 10 min, then filtered through a funnel shown in Fig. 2
containing glass wool and the infusion was cooled. The Experiments were carried out with different crushing peri-
reagents used were iso-butyl methyl ketone (IBMK), diso- ods at medium speed to find out the optimum period for
dium hydrogen phosphate (Na2HPO4), ethyl alcohol and crushing so as to have maximum juice recovery with maxi-
n-butaol. A brief description of the methodology followed mum amount of polyphenols and total solids. The results
is presented in Fig. 1. are presented in Table 1. From the table it is clear that as
The technique of tea tasting used was in conformity the crushing period increases the paste becomes more and
with the standard procedure. The infusion has made by more fine and the juice obtained increases up to a crushing
adding 2.83 g of tea granules into 142 ml of boiling water period of 2.5 min and after that it decreases as crushing per-
taken in a beaker and 0.5 g of instant tea is mixed in iod increases. This is because the finer paste oozes out
150 ml of boiling water. The beaker was covered by a lid through the holes of the strainer. Thus a crushing period of
and kept for 5 min, after which the infusion was evaluated 2.5 min. gave the maximum juice recovery with maximum
for sensory qualities. Market brand CTC tea was taken as amount of total solids and polyphenols in the juice.
the control for comparison among the quality attributes. After crushing, some reduction in weight of the green
Panelists are supplied with evaluation sheets specially pre- leaves was observed; this may perhaps be due to the loss
pared for this purpose and asked to indicate their prefer- of moisture during crushing and handling losses. After
ence about sample quality by assigning a score (9-point pressing about 320 ml of juice and 566 g of residue were
hedonic scale). The score values obtained for various qual- obtained from 1 kg of green leaves. In pressing operation
ity attributes (color, flavor, strength, pungency, mouth feel the moisture content of the green leaves was reduced by
and overall acceptability) were averaged and analyzed 15–20%. The density and pH of juice were 1023 kg/m3
statistically. and 5.24, respectively.

Tea brew

1 ml tea brew + 9 ml distilled water 25 ml tea brew + 25 ml IBMK

(taken in a separating funnel & shaken)
Absorbance at 460 nm (E)

IBMK Layer Aqueous Layer

10 ml aqueous layer + 10 ml butanol

1 ml IBMK layer + 10 ml IBMK layer + (taken in a separating funnel)
9 ml 95% ethyl alcohol 10 ml Na2HPO4 (2.5%)
(taken in a separating funnel)
Absorbance at 380 nm (A) butanol layer aqueous layer

IBMK layer + Aqueous layer

1 ml 45% ethyl alcohol (Discarded)

1 ml butanol layer + 1ml aqueous layer +

9 ml 45% ethyl alcohol 9 ml 45% ethyl alcohol

Absorbance at 380 nm Absorbance at 380 nm Absorbance at 380 nm

(C) (B) (D)
TF % = 4.313 * C
TR % = (B+D-C) * 13.643
HPS % = 13.643 * E
Fig. 1. Method for determination of TF, TR and HPS.
V.R. Sinija et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 82 (2007) 276–283 279

Tea shoots

1 kg, 78-80 % mc (w.b.)



Juice Pressed leaf residue

(310-320 ml, 9 - 10 % TS) (560 - 570 g, 64-66 % mc w.b)

Oxygen Fermentation Fermentation

(0.5 m /h) (30-32oC, 80-85% RH, 1 h)
(30-32oC, 80-85% RH, 1.5 h)

Heat treatment
(Steam at 1.2 kg/cm2, 1 min)

(10000 rpm, 20 min)
(50- 55oC, 12-16 h)

(Temperature –39 to +15, 6-8 h)

Instant tea Tea granules

Fig. 2. Process and material flow chart for instant tea manufacture.

Table 1 for IT
Effect of crushing period on the juice recovery (75 g of sample)
OD ¼ 4  105 t2 þ 0:0049t þ 0:1903 ð1Þ
Crushing Juice Pressed leaf TS in Total
period (min) obtained residue (g) juice (%) polyphenols and for TG
(ml) (%)
1.0 18.8 44.85 7.58 5.31
OD ¼ 3  105 t2 þ 0:0053t þ 0:2908; ð2Þ
2.0 20.5 43.51 8.54 5.86 where OD is the optical density and t is the fermentation
2.5 23.0 42.32 10.72 7.02
3.0 21.5 42.16 9.62 6.70
period in minutes.
4.0 20.8 42.38 9.46 6.30 dOD
¼ 8  10 5t þ 0:0049; ð3Þ
Ideal fermentation produces a proper balance between t = 61 min (1 h) for IT. Similarly, for TG,
theaflavins (TF) and thearubigins (TR), substances respon-
sible for the liquoring characteristics. The optimum period ¼ 6  10 5t þ 0:0053; ð4Þ
was determined for IT and TG by the method based on the dt
amount of TF formed during fermentation. Optimum per- t = 88.33 min (1.5 h).
iod corresponded to the maximum production of TF, The optimum fermentation time for IT was 1 h and for
which was indicated by the peak of the curve obtained by TG was 1.5 h. Fermentation was carried out under ambient
plotting the optical density values of the sample Vs fermen- condition (30–32 °C, 80–85% RH).
tation time. Corresponding curves for IT and TG are The amount of TF formed, as indicated by the increase
shown in Figs. 3 and 4 respectively. Equations for the in OD, in the juice increased with increase in fermentation
curves are: time up to 60 min and after that it decreased. A similar
280 V.R. Sinija et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 82 (2007) 276–283

0.4 Table 2
0.35 OD = -4E-05t2 + 0.0049t + 0.1903 Mean readings obtained for color measurement of various tea samples
R = 0.8545
0.3 Quantity of tea Amount of water added L a b %
(g) (ml) Z
OD at 460 nm

0.3 150 3.9 0.61 0.82 0.08
0.15 0.4 150 4.1 0.65 0.86 0.09
0.5 150 4.5 0.70 0.91 0.11

0.05 TG
2.5 142 3.5 0.58 0.79 0.09
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 2.83 142 3.9 0.61 0.83 0.11
Fermentation time, min 3.0 142 4.1 0.73 0.99 0.14
Fig. 3. Level of theaflavin formed during fermentation of juice.
CTC tea
2.83 142 4.10 0.66 0.97 0.11

OD = -3E-05t + 0.0053t + 0.2908
R = 0.9334 Table 3
Chemical analysis of IT and TG samples

0.4 Constituents Instant tea Tea granules

OD at 460 nm

Total polyphenols, % 19.63 6.61

0.3 Catechins, % 12.21 3.73
TF, % 0.915 0.566
0.2 TR, % 9.88 6.86
Caffeine, % 2.02 3.36
0.1 High polymerized substances, % 9.15 8.58
Total liquor color 3.3 3.7
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
Fermentation time, min This ratio should be within 10–12 for a good quality tea
Fig. 4. Level of theaflavin formed during fermentation of pressed leaf (Wherkoven, 1974). All the values obtained for various
residue. constituents were within the specified range for a CTC tea.
Caffeine content was found to be 40.4 mg per cup for
instant tea and 96 mg per cup for tea granules. The caffeine
trend was found for pressed leaf residue also where the OD content in standard black tea brew varies between 60 and
increased up to 90 min. The decrease in TF content beyond 115 mg per cup and in a cup of instant tea is 40 mg (Harler,
a certain time may be due to the conversion of TF into high 1993). So even after extracting part of the juice, the black
polymeric TRs. tea produced has almost comparable caffeine content as
There was about 12–20% loss in weight during fermen- that of the CTC tea. This showed that the efficiency of con-
tation for the pressed leaf residue and about 5–14% loss version of caffeine and other polyphenolic substances pres-
in weight for the juice. This may be due to the loss of mois- ent in tea leaves during processing increases after extracting
ture due to evaporation during fermentation. a part of the juice. Instant tea also has high polyphenol and
The amount of IT and TG required for producing a catechin content and the corresponding values were 19.63%
brew with the same color and percentage brightness as that and 12.21% respectively. Thus it is seen that the instant tea
of CTC tea was determined by colorimeter measurements and the tea granules produced by this method are compa-
using trial and error. It was found that the quantity of rable to that of standard black tea in major chemical
instant tea required to produce the same brightness and constituents.
L, a, b values as that of the standard CTC tea was 0.5 g The tea samples prepared were evaluated for the various
in 150 ml of water and for TG 2.83 g in 142 ml of water quality attributes using the standard tea tasting procedure.
which is same as that for CTC tea. The values are presented Brew was prepared for each sample by the standard
in Table 2. method and evaluated organoleptically for color, flavor,
The tea samples (IT and TG) produced were analyzed pungency, strength, mouth feel and overall acceptability
for various chemical constituents by the standard proce- by a taste panel. The mean sensory score for different qual-
dures and the samples were also sent to UPASI (United ity attributes and overall acceptability for various tea sam-
Planters Association of South India), Tea Research Insti- ples were determined and statistically analyzed for
tute for analysis. The results are shown in Table 3. The variance. The mean sensory score for the quality attributes
TF content for a CTC tea varies between 0.4% and 1.2% of various tea samples are given in Table 4. The CD values
and TR varies between 8% and 16%. TR: TF ratio for showed that the fermentation time had a profound effect on
instant tea was 10.71 and that for tea granules was 12.12. the various quality attributes.
V.R. Sinija et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 82 (2007) 276–283 281

Table 4
Mean sensory score for the quality attributes of various tea samples
Sample Mean score*
Color Flavor Pungency Strength Mouthfeel Overall acceptability**
Instant tea
IT-125 6.80 5.69 5.83 6.07 5.85 0.79
IT-175 6.96 6.09 6.31 6.54 6.02 0.86
IT-225 6.95 6.03 6.13 6.29 5.94 0.85
IT-275 6.84 5.97 6.06 6.19 5.93 0.84
IT-325 6.26 5.55 5.99 5.96 5.69 0.77
1% 0.19 0.13 0.08 0.08 0.13 0.01
5% 0.27 0.17 0.11 0.11 0.18 0.01
Tea granules
TLG-125 5.90 6.13 5.57 6.44 5.99 0.79
TLG-175 6.64 6.36 5.96 6.51 6.30 0.86
TLG-225 6.75 6.40 6.04 6.94 6.54 0.89
TLG-275 6.72 6.38 5.94 6.70 6.27 0.89
TLG-325 6.53 6.21 5.89 6.48 6.04 0.81
1% 0.08 0.20 0.11 0.10 0.15 0.02
5% 0.11 0.26 0.14 0.14 0.20 0.03
CTC tea
CTC-125 6.55 6.55 5.74 6.67 5.93 0.86
CTC-175 6.65 6.37 5.80 6.94 5.80 0.82
CTC-225 6.63 6.64 5.54 6.60 6.01 0.78
CTC-275 6.72 6.89 5.79 6.79 6.21 0.85
CTC-325 6.25 6.49 5.94 7.02 5.82 0.85
9–10, Excellent; 7–8.9, very good; 5–6.9, good; 3–4.9, fair; 1–2.9, poor.
+2, liked very much; +1, liked; 0, neither liked nor disliked; 1, disliked; 2, disliked very much.

All the quality attributes for instant tea and tea granules In another experiment, instant tea and tea granules were
were rated from good to very good. Figs. 5 and 6 showed prepared with different fermentation times, and the pre-
the results of the sensory evaluation depicted in the form pared samples were analyzed for the quality by the sensory
of bar diagrams. From the figure it is seen that the color evaluation panel. The results are shown in Fig. 7. The over-
and pungency was highest for the instant tea sample, all acceptability is found to be maximum for the samples
whereas the flavor was relatively less than the CTC tea with 1-h fermentation in the case of instant tea and the
and TG. The TG exhibited almost same or slightly higher samples with 1.5-h fermentation time was having maxi-
score for all the quality attributes as compared to the mum acceptability in the case of tea granules. This con-
CTC tea. The overall acceptability for both the IT and firmed the result obtained for optimum fermentation time
TG were comparable to that of CTC tea. The removal of by the method based on the amount of theaflavin formed
a part of juice from the green leaves does not have a during fermentation.
marked effect on the quality of black tea. Thus, we can In most of the existing methods for the production of
get both IT and TG from the green shoots simultaneously instant tea, where hot water extraction is used for extract-
in this method. ing the constituents from fresh leaves, the residue obtained

8 instant tea
instant tea 0.9
7 tea granules tea granules
6 CTC tea CTC tea
Mean score
Mean score

5 0.6
4 0.5
1 0.1
0 0
color flavor pungency strength mouthfeel overall acceptability
Error bars indicate the mean value +/- standard deviation Error bars indicate the mean value +/- standard deviation

Fig. 5. Comparison among the various quality attributes of different tea Fig. 6. Comparison among the overall acceptability of different tea
samples. samples.
282 V.R. Sinija et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 82 (2007) 276–283

1 study is of less operating cost and at the same time main-

0.9 taining the quality of tea, since there is no heat treatment
0.8 during juice expression.
0.7 Tea contains about 300–450 g/kg of extractable solids,
but the yield of instant tea is only 200 g/kg prepared tea
Mean score

0.5 (black tea) in commercial production scale, leaving the
0.4 Instant Tea major portion (800 g.) as waste (spent tea leaf) (Chen,
Tea Granules 1979), whereas in the present method 20 ± 2 g instant tea
powder and 225 ± 5 g. black tea granules were produced
from 1 kg of fresh green tea shoots. Even in methods using
direct extraction from fresh shoots for production of
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 instant tea, the maximum amount of solids extracted with
Fermentation time, h hot water is around 30% of dry matter present in fresh
Error bars indicate the mean value +/- standard deviation shoots (Schott, 1988).
Fig. 7. Effect of fermentation time on the overall acceptability of instant
tea and tea granules. 4. Conclusion

In conclusion, a novel technique for the production of

instant tea has been established in this investigation and
after the extraction is discarded as waste. Whereas in the
it is patented (India No. 195073). The IT produced by
present method the juice is directly pressed out using a sim-
this method is of good color, pungency and other
ple pressing mechanism and the residue obtained after juice
liquoring characteristics. Polyphenols, TF and TR con-
expression is converted into black tea granules resembling
tents are also in the acceptable range. The IT produced
CTC tea in quality characteristics. It is actually a value
is soluble even in cold water. The pressed leaf residue
added process; from the same leaf we are getting both
is converted into black tea, which is comparable to
instant tea and black tea. Instant black tea produced in
CTC tea in quality and liquoring characteristics. Thus,
the present method by fermenting the expressed juice fol-
there is considerable savings in the economy since both
lowed by freeze drying is completely soluble even in cold
the juice as well as the residue is converted into value
added products.
Moreover, in hot water extraction, the high temperature
during processing might cause the degradation of chemical
constituents. Among the two groups of volatile flavoring References
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