Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) developed new probiotic coffee and tea drinks which are fortified with gut-friendly live probiotics.
Traditional probiotic carriers like yoghurts and cultured milks 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.
Supervised by Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan from the Department of Food Science and Technology at the NUS Faculty of Science, 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.
“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. Most commercially available probiotic coffee and tea drinks are unfermented. Our team has 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,” explained Associate Professor Liu.
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.
Tea is known for its health benefits due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Using the patented fermentation process, polyphenol molecules in the tea that are linked to these properties are retained.
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.
Through the process of fermentation, the caffeine content of the coffee is maintained together with chlorogenic acid which is linked to a number of health benefits from drinking coffee.
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.