MSc student (Food Science) at Stellenbosch University


  Study leaders: Dr Erika Moelich; Professor Elizabeth (Lizette) Joubert & Professor Dalene de Beer


"I am developing a rapid and cost-effective method to classify and grade honeybush tea."

Honeybush tea seen in a new light

In my research, I focus on developing a rapid and cost-effective instrumental method to classify and grade honeybush tea. I will be making use of hyperspectral imaging, a technique that integrates how matter interacts with light (spectroscopy), and imaging techniques. Using these techniques provides information about the physical and chemical properties of a food product, allowing for more accurate examination and characterisation of the tea. A large number of honeybush tea samples will be graded, using Qquest, the newly developed quality grading system for honeybush tea (study by Brigitte du Preez). The same samples will be screened through hyperspectral imaging and the data correlated with sensory qualities of the infusions to determine whether hyperspectral imaging can predict the quality of the tea samples. This kind of information can be used to develop a model to classify tea samples into the correct quality grade without the need for a sensory panel.

Why it matters

As honeybush tea is produced from different Cyclopia species, there is a need for a method that will rapidly determine the authenticity and quality of honeybush tea. Currently, the only method for assessing the quality of honeybush tea is through descriptive sensory analysis. This type of analysis requires a trained panel of individuals to smell and taste the tea and to explore its qualitative and quantitative sensory properties. This type of system is time- and labour-intensive. Training of the panel and tasting tea products can take weeks. It is also costly to maintain such a panel. Finding a rapid and cost-effective instrumental method, such as hyperspectral imaging, can benefit the honeybush tea industry to ensure that tea of a high quality reach the market.

HELENE_VAN_SCHOOR-small.jpgAbout the student

Van Schoor's love for baking and cooking and her interest in science and chemistry led her to study towards a BSc degree in food science at Stellenbosch University (SU). Van Schoor graduated in December 2019. She started with a master's degree in food science in January 2020.

Helene van Schoor, an MSc student in food science at Stellenbosch University, is developing a rapid and cost-effective method to classify and grade honeybush tea.