This paper reports on the application of total luminescence spectroscopy to discriminate between seven different types of tea: four bottled liquid Japanese teas (oolong, green, houji and black teas) and three leaf teas (Kenya, Assam and Ceylon teas). Total luminescence spectra were recorded by measuring the emission spectra in the range 300-700 nm at excitation wavelengths from 250 to 590 nm. Discrimination of teas based on their spectral data was performed by principal component analysis, a common chemometric method used for data reduction and visualisation. The results demonstrate the ability of fluorescence techniques to differentiate between green tea (unfermented), black tea (fermented) and oolong tea (partially fermented). (c) 2006 Society of Chemical Industry.