Students create ‘bubble tea’ for food science competition

News Release Distributed 02/21/11

Three graduate assistants in the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Food Science are vying against two other universities for up to $6,500 in cash and prizes in a contest to develop new food products using canola oil.

The team made it into the final round of the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association Heart Healthy Product Development Competition with a tea-based drink called a bubble tea, which contains tea, natural fruit puree and tapioca pearls.

A bubble tea, which originated in Taiwan and spread to other Asian countries before coming to the United States, resembles a smoothie and is typically sipped through a large straw designed to allow the tapioca pearls to slide through.

The team is calling its product Ze-Ti.

Ze-Ti is a shelf-stable bubble tea, said Darryl Holliday, a team member and graduate student.

“There’s no shelf-stable bubble tea on the market,” Holliday said. “We felt like that would be a good opportunity.”

The team considered developing other products such as baking mixes, cereals and pudding before settling on the bubble tea concept.

“We had a lot of ideas, but probably the tea was more innovative because the tea is not available in the store. You have to go to a shop that sells bubble tea,” said Adriana Soto, also a graduate student and team member.

The team incorporated the canola oil into a mango puree to keep the tapioca pearls from breaking down.

“We took some of the fiber naturally found in the mango puree and added some commercial gum and created an oil and mango puree emulsion and used that to coat the tapioca pearls,” explained Holliday.

This mango puree would be kept separate from the tea base, which consists of green tea and coconut water. The consumer would mix them together before drinking it.

The result? “Yummy,” said Alisa Todd, fellow team member and graduate student, adding “the mango comes through really strong. It’s very soothing.”

The team will take their product to the IFT Wellness conference in Chicago in March.

“We present our product, our sensory analysis and our marketing and advertising strategies,” said Todd. “We’re going to be compared to the two other teams to see who has the best idea that could actually be launched.”

“We’ll also conduct a tasting of the product,” Soto added.

The team is up against teams from Rutgers University and Texas Tech University. CanolaInfo is providing money for the teams’ travel to the conference. The team that places first will receive $3,500. The second place team will get $2,500, and the team placing third will receive $1,000.

Tobie Blanchard
2/22/2011 3:23:49 AM
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