THEI graduate creates
nutritious sea grape green tea
A specialty beverage for people staying home under the pandemic
Hong Kong people are picky food lovers. To develop specialty food or drinks with popular “superfood” is both healthy and creative. What’s more, the market may love it. Stephanie LEUNG Yuk-ching has loved to explore recipes and ingredients since young age. Her passion for food makes her decide to pursue a career in catering industry and she earned a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Food Science and Safety of the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi). Currently she is a food safety expert in a food safety consultancy. Earlier, she created a specialty beverage with green tea, and sea grapes which are popular Okinawan "superfood". Fresh and easy to prepare, the drink is suitable for people staying home under the pandemic. The “sea grape honey green tea” drink even earns Stephanie a business opportunity to cooperate with a Mainland China sea grape farm and collaboration is being discussed. The product stands a chance to be launched onto the market.
Hailed “Green Caviar”, sea grapes are a famous product in Okinawa, Japan. Packed with vitamins and minerals, sea grapes contain a high level of calcium, which is five times of that of milk. With antioxidant functions, the edible algae provide excellent beauty and health care effects. But sea grapes are hard to “handle”. They can only be kept at a constant temperature of around 20°C within a short time. Too hot or too cold, they will turn bad. Nor can they be cooked. They become soft when soaked. Japanese are used to having sea grapes with vinegar or eating them raw as sushi to enjoy their natural taste. But the salty and fishy flavour may turn people off.
30ish Trials Done
Stephanie is all for healthy eating. Hooked to cooking since young, she is the “family chef” who particularly loves to create new recipes. Her best dishes include fried mango and eggplant, tom yum and peach, and chocolate mochi bread. After learning about the high nutritional value of sea grapes during her study with THEi, the resourceful Stephanie would like to bring the “superfood” to every one’s home, turning it into the healthy fine food that even people who are concerned about their blood glucose levels can enjoy. “Hong Kong people are busy. Dishes involving elaborate cooking steps may not suit their needs,” she said. “Easy-to-prepare drinks with an agreeable taste will be most suitable. This inspires me to make the ‘sea grape honey green tea’ drink.”
However, the processes of making the drink were fraught with all sorts of problems pop up, like heavy bitter taste and honey overpowering the taste of green tea and sea grapes. Stephanie said, “I have explored over 30 ways, experimenting with different amounts and composition of the ingredients, as well as formulas of creating the drink, and I finally came up with the idea of using apple cider vinegar to neutralise the smell of sea grapes. The vinegar can also lower the blood glucose level and is particularly beneficial to Type 2 diabetics. Further, to prevent water from oozing out of the sea grapes and the latter from going bad, I squeezed the raw sea grapes into juice.”
After repeated trials, Stephanie observed a few things about making the “sea grape honey green tea”. “The aroma of green tea is the best when brewed in hot water at 60°C for five minutes. Also, I replace part of the honey with sugar substitute so as to lower the Glycemic Index of the drink,” Stephanie said. To enhance the taste, Stephanie specially made sea grape konjacs for adding into the green tea. The drink can last up to three or four days stored under refrigeration and is a good cool drink in the heat of summer amid the pandemic.
Homemade cookies without additives
As a creative foodie, Stephanie has also made healthy cookies without additives like colourings and preservatives. The cookies have less sugar and butter, boasting tea and tomato flavours rarely seen in the market. “The absence of additives means the sugar used has to be precisely controlled in order to ensure crunchiness of the cookies,” Stephanie said. The cookies are a hit among her friends. Earlier, she made over one thousand pieces for a good friend who had to give away farewell cookies upon leaving the workplace.
Her love for gourmet recipes and food safety
After graduating from secondary school, Stephanie was offered study places in nursing and physics programmes. But her passion is in food and she finally enrolled in the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Food Science and Safety with THEi. She pointed out that the learning journey was most fun-filled and enriching. “During the Year Two summer vacation, I was arranged to join an internship in a chemistry laboratory of a local university and I partook in research on biological protein synthesis and gene protein. In the following year, I interned for close to three months at an airliner responsible for checking in-flight catering and examining the menus. By and by I accumulated practical experience,” said Stephanie. A number of overseas tours had also been arranged for Stephanie during her THEi study to broaden her horizons, including an academic exchange tour to Germany.
After graduating from THEi, Stephanie sharpened her professionalism by obtaining a master’s degree in food safety and toxicology with a local university. In the middle of this year, she was hired by a consultancy as a food safety consultant. At the workplace, she makes good use of her knowledge acquired at THEi in food laws and regulations, quality control and food safety management, nutritional biochemistry, and food processing. Stephanie said, “At present, I assist clients to obtain the ISO 22000 food safety management system certifications for their kitchens and plants and provide guidelines and manpower training. Internally, I have to take care of the quality assurance work of our company plant and handle customer enquiries.” Stephanie would like to accumulate work experience first and develop a career with her own-brand specialty food in the future.
Sea Grape Honey Green Tea Drink
Ingredients and Amount (500ml per serving):
Ingredients: Amount: Green tea leaves 5g Hot water at 60°C 500g Sea grape juice 10g Honey 3.3g Apple cider vinegar 2.5g Sugar substitute 0.8g
Sea Grape Konjacs
Ingredients and Amount(50g per serving):
Ingredients: Amount: Hot water 37g Sea grape juice 9g Honey 4g Agar powder 4g Green tea powder 1 Apple cider vinegar 0.8g
- Rinse the sea grapes in cold water for three times to wash away saltiness on the surface, pour the sea grapes into a blender, and extract residue from juice.
- Brew the green tea leaves in hot water at 60°C for five minutes and strain the tea leaves.
- Pour sea grape juice, honey, apple cider vinegar and sugar substitute into green tea, blend, and serve.
- Blend the sea grape konjac ingredients and wait to cool down.
- Dice cooled sea grape konjacs and add into the sea grape honey green tea drink. Serve.
*The above information on a healthy drink is intended for reference only. Readers should seek professional advice as necessary before consuming the drink.