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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 18-21

Analysis of Milk Tea as a New Mixed Drug Substance in China

Department of Forensic Science, Fujian Police College, Fuzhou, P. R. China

Date of Web Publication31-Mar-2017

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Binling Zhu
Department of Forensic Science, Fujian Police College, Fuzhou
P. R. China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfsm.jfsm_10_17

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Among the popular mixed drugs in China, the oral solution shenxianshui and the floury drug milk tea have recently emerged. In 2014, 123 bags of milk tea included in 14 cases were tested qualitatively and quantitatively, and the test results provided a basis for drug detection, prosecution, and sentencing. More than two drug components were detected in milk tea, which was characterized as a fragrant beige, yellow, or brown powder. The detection rates of methylamphetamine (MA), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), and ketamine in milk tea were 36.6%, 50.4%, and 76.4%, respectively, and the concentrations of MA, MDMA, and ketamine were 0.2–5.1, 3.2–30.1, and 0.8–176.3 mg/g, respectively, in quantitative testing.

Keywords: A new mix drug substance, analysis, forensic toxicology, milk tea

How to cite this article:
Zhu B, Meng L, Zheng K. Analysis of Milk Tea as a New Mixed Drug Substance in China. J Forensic Sci Med 2017;3:18-21

How to cite this URL:
Zhu B, Meng L, Zheng K. Analysis of Milk Tea as a New Mixed Drug Substance in China. J Forensic Sci Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Jan 28];3:18-21. Available from: https://www.jfsmonline.com/text.asp?2017/3/1/18/203546

  Introduction Top

Following the popularity of Shenxianshui (SXS), a new hybrid drug called milk tea has become common in China. The milk tea drug is a drinkable milk tea blended with psychoactive drugs, such as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), methylamphetamine (MA), ketamine, and other psychoactive substances and medicines. When prepared with vacuum packaging, milk tea is fragrant, resembles drinkable milk tea in appearance, and can be consumed after being dissolved in water, thus allowing it to be easily concealed. Owing to the combined effects induced by various components in milk tea, the drug can induce excitement and visual and auditory hallucinations.

In China, confirming and carrying out quantitative analyses of seized milk tea are necessary for the detection, prosecution, and sentencing of drug-related crimes. The qualitative and quantitative conclusions from milk tea testing can be used to verify the authenticity of suspects' confessions, provide information to identify drug sources, and offer grounds for conviction and sentencing. In this study, we summarize, analyze, and report testing results for 123 bags of recently seized milk tea from 14 cases encountered at the Fujian Police Forensic Identification Center to improve our understanding of the milk tea drug. Based on our results, we suggest that drug control departments pay special attention to the uncontrolled new psychoactive substances detected in milk tea.

  Experimental Procedures Top

Materials and chemicals

MA, MDMA, ketamine, nimetazepam, and caffeine were purchased from the Evidence Identification Center (Ministry of Public Security), whereas heptadecane (internal standard) and other drugs were from Aladdin Shanghai (China). Ethyl acetate and other affiliated chemicals were purchased from Fuzhou Chemical Reagent Store. All of the solvents and chemicals used were of analytical grade. Samples of milk tea were submitted by the Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Wuyishan public security bureaus for inspection.


The instrumentation includes an Agilent 6890–5973N gas chromatograph (GC)/mass spectrometer (MS), automatic sampler 7683, Agilent 7890 GC, flame ionization detector (FID), automatic sampler 7693, DB-5MS chromatographic column, and 30.0 m × 0.25 mm × 0.25 μm silica capillary column.

The temperatures of the GC/MS sampling point and gas-mass nozzle were up to 260°C and 280°C, respectively. Carrier gas (He, 99.999%) flow reached 1.2 ml/min at a constant rate with a splitting ratio of 20:1. The sample size was 1 μl. Solvent delay was 3.0 min. The temperatures of the MS ion source (EI70eV) and quadrupole rod were 230°C and 150°C, respectively. Full scanning capture was used with a scanning range between 35 and 450 m/z. The mass spectra library was NIST11. The GC/FID sampling point temperature and detector temperature were 260°C and 300°C, respectively. Carrier gas (N2, 99.999%) flow was constantly maintained at 1.5 ml/min with a split ratio at 20:1. The sample size was up to 1 μl.

The warming program for the GC/FID and GC/MS remained the same, with column temperature increasing from 100°C (maintained for 2 min) to 300°C (maintained for 6 min) at a rate of 20°C/min.

Processing of samples

After the milk tea has been adequately blended, approximately 200 mg of sample was placed in a 25-ml volumetric flask, and ethyl acetate was added, followed by the addition of 0.5 ml of ammonia. The sample was then subjected to ultrasonic extraction for 10 min. An appropriate amount of the sample was centrifuged at 8000 ×g for 5 min. Next, 0.5 ml of supernatant was applied for GC/MS qualitative analysis. In addition, another 0.5 ml of supernatant was added to 50 ml of 1 mg/ml heptadecane (C17) and mixed well for GC/FID quantitative analysis. If the concentration of the sample was beyond the linearity range, the sample was diluted with ethyl acetate or the weight of the sample was increased, and the sample was then tested again.

  Results and Discussion Top

Test results

Evaluation of the quantitative analysis method was reported previously.[1] The test results of appearance, GC/MS qualitative analysis, and GC/FID quantitative analysis of 123 bags of samples included in 14 cases are presented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Results of analysis of 123 bags of milk tea in 14 cases

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Testing result analysis

Milk tea drug typically had a milk tea flavor and was vacuum packaged with different styles of tea bags (milk tea bags or silver foil bags). The samples were beige, yellow, or brown powders. Many drug components were detected in the 123 bags of samples from the 14 cases. We commonly identified MA, ketamine, and MDMA (also known as ecstasy) in the samples; these drugs were popular drugs used at entertainment venues a few years ago. The detection rates of MA, MDMA, and ketamine were 36.6%, 50.4%, and 76.4%, respectively. In addition, drugs that were newly controlled in 2013, such as 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone (methylone) and benzylpiperazine (BZP), were detected in the milk tea, and other drug components, for example, nimetazepam, caffeine, barbital, and diazepam, were also detected. Furthermore, uncontrolled new psychoactive substances, for example, phenazepam,[2] 1-(3-trifluoromethylphenyl) piperazine (TMFPP),[3] and 1-(4-fluorophenyl) piperazine (PFPP), were also detected in the milk tea. Drugs and medicines detected in milk tea have different effects on the central nervous system of humans. Amphetamine drugs, for example, MA and MDMA, can make people excited, whereas nimetazepam, barbital, diazepam, and phenazepam can make people sedated and contribute to the mitigation of excitement. The testing center has received and tested phenazepam tablets that are presented as nimetazepam and TMFPP tablets that simulate ecstasy (MDMA) in many cases with large quantities. High detection rates of phenazepam and TMFPP in the latest seized SXS were also confirmed.[1] The drug control departments should pay special attention to these uncontrolled psychoactive substances. Certain pharmaceutical components, such as dextromethorphan, phenacetin, chlorpromazine, and clozapine, were also detected in milk tea. [Figure 1] shows the tentatively identified compounds of sample #1 in case 14, with detection of TMFPP, PFPP, MDMA, ketamine, caffeine, and nimetazepam.
Figure 1: The tentatively identified compounds of sample #1 in case 14

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More than two drug components were detected in each of the samples for the 123 drug bags. The main drug component of 35 bags (28.5%) was MDMA, and that of 59 bags (48.0%) was ketamine. The main components of 27 bags (22%) were MDMA and ketamine, with similar proportions, and those of 2 bags (1.4%) were MA and ketamine, also with similar proportions.

Sample components in different cases varied greatly; however, sample components from the same case were almost identical, although there were some exceptions. For example in case 2, only MDMA (3.2–6.3 mg/g) was detected in samples #1–3; MDMA (11.2–28.3 mg/g) and ketamine (1.1–5.4 mg/g) were detected in samples #5–7; and MDMA (8.2–11.3 mg/g), ketamine (4.4 mg/g), and MA (0.4–0.7 mg/g) were detected in samples #4–8.

  Conclusions Top

In summary, milk tea in which more than two components are detected has emerged as a novel type of hybrid drug. Drug components in various milk teas varied greatly. In the 123 bags of tested milk tea, about one-third of the samples were mainly composed of MDMA, whereas one-half contained ketamine as the major component. In our analysis, about one-third of the samples were laced with small quantities of MA. Other drug components that appeared in the milk tea testing included new drugs, such as methylone and BZP, and other drug components, such as nimetazepam, caffeine, and barbital. Furthermore, the appearance of uncontrolled new psychoactive substances, such as phenazepam, TMFPP, and PFPP, in milk tea provides important information for drug control departments.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Zhu B, Meng L, Zheng K. Inspection and analysis of mixed drugs recently seized in China. Forensic Sci Int 2014;242:e44-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
Oyemade A. New uncontrolled benzodiazepine, phenazepam, emerging drug of abuse. Innov Clin Neurosci 2012;9:10.  Back to cited text no. 2
Tsutsumi H, Katagi M, Miki A, Shima N, Kamata T, Nishikawa M, et al. Development of simultaneous gas chromatography-mass spectrometric and liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization mass spectrometric determination method for the new designer drugs, N-benzylpiperazine (BZP), 1-(3-trifluoromethylphenyl) piperazine (TFMPP) and their main metabolites in urine. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci 2005;819:315-22.  Back to cited text no. 3


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1]

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