Research fellow (Food Science) at Stellenbosch University



"The industry needs a quick and easy way to determine the sensory quality
of honeybush tea."

Towards a better sensory experience

Sensory analysis, using a panel of trained experts, is an ideal method to ascertain the aroma, flavour, taste, mouthfeel and appearance attributes of food or beverage products. These sensory attributes are extremely important to the consumer. After all, who wants to buy a product that does not look, smell or taste good? Our research revolves around measuring the full sensory profile of honeybush tea using advanced sensory test techniques. However, the honeybush industry requires quick and easy tools to assess the overall sensory quality of their product. To address this challenge, we are evaluating rapid sensory profiling techniques that could potentially be used by the honeybush industry as part of their quality control toolkit.

Why this matters

Acceptable sensory profiles mean better quality, and better quality usually results in better product acceptance. While there is a vast amount of literature on the application of advanced sensory analysis techniques to develop robust, comprehensive datasets, there is a lack of information on sensory techniques for industry, particularly techniques that are rapid and easy to conduct on a day-to-day basis. We are currently working towards developing streamlined sensory techniques with the support of the honeybush tea industry. We, however, require continued industry buy-in and involvement to conduct this type of research. In this way, we can add significantly to the honeybush industry's drive to produce and market honeybush tea of optimum and consistent sensory quality.

NINA_MULLER-small.jpgMore about the researcher

Muller, a research fellow at Stellenbosch University's Department of Food Science, currently focusses on the sensory profiling of honeybush tea, thereby aiming to develop quick and effective sensory quality control tools for application in industry.

As a researcher in the field of sensory science, she has collaborated with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) on herbal tea research since 2010. She has been instrumental in establishing a cutting-edge sensory science facility for herbal tea research at the Department. This 10-year research liaison with the ARC has resulted in more than 20 research papers in the field of sensory science, as well as an illustrated guide aiming to improve sensory quality control within the honeybush industry. This guide will be published at the end of 2020. Muller is a member of the South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST) and the South African Association of Flavour and Fragrance Industry (SAAFFI).

Nina Muller, a research fellow at Stellenbosch University's Department of Food Science, focuses on the sensory profiling of honeybush.