Pu-erh tea is a post-fermented tea that has recently gained popularity worldwide, due to potential health benefits related to the antioxidant activity resulting from its high polyphenolic content. The Folin–Ciocalteu method is a simple, rapid, and inexpensive assay widely applied for the determination of total polyphenol content. Over the past years, it has been subjected to many modifications, often without any systematic optimization or validation. In our study, we sought to optimize the Folin–Ciocalteu method, evaluate quality parameters including linearity, precision and stability, and then apply the optimized model to determine the total polyphenol content of 57 Chinese teas, including green tea, aged and ripened Pu-erh tea. Our optimized Folin–Ciocalteu method reduced analysis time, allowed for the analysis of a large number of samples, to discriminate among the different teas, and to assess the effect of the post-fermentation process on polyphenol content.
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