NUS researchers brew probiotic coffee and tea drinks

February 10, 2021
NUS researchers brew probiotic coffee and tea drinks

Are you interested to try probiotic coffee or tea? Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have created new probiotic coffee and tea drinks that not only have great taste but can be stored chilled or at room temperature for more than 14 weeks without compromising on their probiotic viability.

The rise in veganism, along with common health issues like lactose intolerance, high cholesterol, and allergies to dairy proteins, such as those in traditional probiotic carriers like yoghurts and cultured milks have stimulated the trend in non-dairy probiotic food and beverages.

“Coffee and tea are two of the most popular drinks around the world, and are both plant-based infusions. As such, they act as a perfect vehicle for carrying and delivering probiotics to consumers,” said Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan from the Department of Food Science and Technology at the NUS Faculty of Science.

“Most commercially available probiotic coffee and tea drinks are unfermented but two of our students have successfully created a new range of these beverages using the fermentation process as it produces healthy compounds that improve nutrient digestibility while retaining the health benefits associated with coffee and tea.”

Each serving of probiotic tea and probiotic coffee contains at least 1 billion units of live probiotics, the daily amount recommended by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, Professor Liu added.

To create the probiotic coffee drink, doctoral student Alcine Chan added 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. Sugar and milk can be added to the chilled probiotic coffee before consumption if so desired.

Some of the probiotic coffee prototypes give better-balanced acidity, some give better mouthfeels, some have deeper smoky flavours, and some can retain the coffee flavour better after long-term storage, Chan said, but the caffeine content is retained, so people who consume coffee for caffeine can still get their fix.

The probiotic coffee also kept the chlorogenic acid content, which has been linked to a lot of the health benefits of coffee.

Meanwhile the probiotic tea drink was created by doctoral student Wang Rui, who 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.

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