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January 13, 2021 Wednesday 04:46:15 PM IST

NUS researchers concoct probiotic coffee and tea drinks

Science Innovations

Supervised by Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan from NUS Food Science and Technology, the two doctoral students who worked on these two new beverages assert that their drinks have a great taste, and can be stored chilled or at room temperature for more than 14 weeks without compromising on their probiotic viability. Traditional probiotic carriers like yoghurts and cultured milk are dairy-based products. The rise in veganism, along with common health issues like lactose intolerance, high cholesterol, and allergies to dairy proteins, have stimulated the trend in non-dairy probiotic food and beverages.

To create the new probiotic tea, Ms Wang Rui, a doctoral student from NUS Food Science and Technology, added nutrients into a tea infusion, followed by a careful selection of specific probiotics. The tea mixture is left to ferment for two days, after which it is ready to drink. Any kind of brewed tea can be used in this process, and throughout the fermentation process, the original flavour of the tea is largely retained, with fruity and floral notes introduced.

Many health benefits of tea, such as its antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties, have been linked to it containing ‘polyphenol’ molecules. By using the patented fermentation process, the polyphenol contents from the tea are retained, and an additional antibacterial agent – phenyllactate – is produced after fermentation. The drink also contains live probiotics which promote gut health.

Another doctoral student from the Department, Ms Alcine Chan, created a new probiotic coffee by adding specially selected nutrients to brewed coffee, followed by carefully chosen probiotics. The coffee mixture is left to ferment for a day, and placed in the refrigerator following probiotic fermentation. After this process, the chilled probiotic coffee is ready to drink. Sugar and milk can be added before consumption if desired.

Each serving of probiotic tea and probiotic coffee contains at least 1 billion units of live probiotics. This the daily amount recommended by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. Both doctoral students are refining their recipes to enhance the taste and flavour of the two beverages. The NUS team has also filed a patent for the probiotic coffee recipe and hopes to collaborate with industry partners to commercialise the drink.

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