Researcher (Food Science) at Stellenbosch University



"Quick, easy and cost-effective methods for determination of sensory quality of honeybush tea would be a valuable asset to industry"

Researcher explores the application of rapid sensory methodologies for quality control of honeybush tea

The primary sensory profile of honeybush tea can be described as "floral", "fruity", "woody" and "sweet-associated", with a sweet taste and slight astringent feeling in the mouth. These sensory attributes differ in intensity within and between honeybush species. Factors such as consistency of product quality and absence of taints form the mainstay in quality control of food and beverage products. My research interest is the application of rapid sensory methods such as sorting, projective mapping and polarised sensory positioning for the broad sensory profiling of honeybush tea. Of a particular interest is the application of these method in a quality control environment.

Why this matters

Traditional methods of sensory analysis, such as descriptive sensory analysis, is a time-consuming and costly process, especially for application in the food and beverage industry. The training and maintenance of a descriptive sensory panel and testing of products, remain time-consuming and costly.

In response to the demand from industry for rapid, cost-effective sensory description, various so-called rapid sensory methods have been developed. These methods do not require a training phase and can be performed by assessors who have different levels of sensory expertise. Therefore, these methods can be useful when a broad sensory profile and the relative sensory positioning of a set of food products are of primary concern. Rapid profiling methods such as sorting, which can encapsulate the sensory profile of honeybush tea in a quick and valid method, would help the industry to ensure effective quality control programmes.

ERIKA_MOELICH-small.jpgAbout the researcher

Moelich holds a PhD in food science from Stellenbosch University (SU). Her main areas of research are sensory analysis, honeybush herbal tea, multivariate analysis and prediction model development. She has extensive experience in the field of sensory science, including using rapid sensory profiling methods and sensometrics that involves the use of statistical methods in sensory and consumer science.

Moelich became involved in honeybush research because of her interest in sensory analysis methods and its application to assist the food and beverage industry with strategic decisions in product development and process optimisation. Over the past decade, she has been involved in a wide range of sensory research projects with application of various sensory techniques, and in training on the basics of sensory analysis in the food and beverage industry. Moelich has acted as co-supervisor for master's and PhD students at SU. She is a member of several professional associations, including the South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST). Her research on the application of sensory analysis on various products, including honeybush tea, has been published in several peer-reviewed journals.

Dr Erika Moelich, a researcher at Stellenbosch University's Department of Food Science, focuses on quick and cost-effective methods for the sensory profiling and quality control of honeybush tea.