Fakour H, Lo SL. Formation and risk assessment of trihalomethanes through different tea brewing habits. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2018 Sep 1. pii: S1438-4639(18)30193-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.08.013.
Trihalomethanes (THMs) are suspected carcinogens and reproductive toxicants commonly found in chlorinated drinking water. This study investigates the formation of THMs and their associated risks during different tea brewing habits. Three main categories of tea (black, oolong, and green) under various brewing conditions and drinking water sources were tested. Tea samples prepared in ordinary thermos flask formed significant levels of total THM (TTHM). The highest TTHM formation came from black tea made with tap water, plausibly due to higher concentrations of reactive THM precursors. Compared with tap water, when the background solution is bottled water or distilled water, less TTHM was observed in prepared tea infusions. The results also revealed that unlike the traditional teapot-based tea serving habit, the removal of THMs is significantly reduced when tea infusion is stored in enclosed containers. Risk assessment analysis based on the survey among tea shop costumers also revealed that cancer risks induced by ingestion of THMs through drinking tea infusions prepared in thermos flask exceeded the tolerable level. Data obtained in this research demonstrated that drinking tea infusions directly from enclosed containers can be a significant source of exposure to THMs.