The contents of lead, cadmium, chromium, copper, and nickel were determined in 25 tea samples from China, including green, yellow, white, oolong, black, Pu'er, and jasmine tea products, using high-resolution continuum source graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. The methods used for sample preparation, digestion, and quantificational analysis were established, generating satisfactory analytical precisions (represented by relative standard deviations ranging from 0.6% to 2.5%) and recoveries (98.91-101.32%). The lead contents in tea leaves were 0.48-10.57 mg/kg, and 80% of these values were below the maximum values stated by the guidelines in China. The contents of cadmium and chromium ranged from 0.01 mg/kg to 0.39 mg/kg and from 0.27 mg/kg to 2.45 mg/kg, respectively, remaining in compliance with the limits stipulated by China's Ministry of Agriculture. The copper contents were 7.73-63.71 mg/kg; only 64% of these values complied with the standards stipulated by the Ministry of Agriculture. The nickel contents ranged from 2.70 mg/kg to 13.41 mg/kg. Consequently, more attention must be paid to the risks of heavy metal contamination in tea. The quantitative method established in this work lays a foundation for preventing heavy metal toxicity in human from drinking tea and will help establish regulations to control the contents of heavy metals in tea. © 2015, Food and Drug Administration, Taiwan. Published by Elsevier Taiwan LLC.

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