Local tea producers of Iloilo have something to look forward to in 2019. The Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISaTU) will be developing a programmable dehydrator machine for their herbal tea materials.
This will be realized through the project, “Design and Development of a Programmable Dehydrator Machine for Herbal Tea Materials,” which was recently approved by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).
The project was conceptualized to address the need of local tea producers for suitable equipment and technical knowledge and skills in herbal tea processing. Herbal tea products are gaining acceptance from health-conscious consumers. However, conditions and requirements must be established to get the full potential and health benefits from herbal teas. The processors need to know the bioactive compounds in the raw and dehydrated materials and define the optimal dehydration condition and length of drying period, at which the highest possible nutrients are still preserved. Bioactive compounds are chemical elements in herbal plant parts with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties, to name a few.
During the project inception meeting, held at ISaTU, La Paz, Iloilo City, project leader and professor Dr. Renerio L. Mucas said that the dehydrator machine that he will be designing will be powered by solar energy backed-up by electric power. Embodied in the dryer will be a programmable circuit system that will control and monitor the temperature and humidity of the drying system.
The project will study the drying method currently used by local tea producers. The baseline information will be considered in designing the machine. Once developed, the machine’s performance will be tested and modified if necessary. The herbal tea materials that passed through the dehydrator machine will be assessed. Their organoleptic, physicochemical, and microbiological characteristics will be determined. The project will be implemented at ISaTU and tests will be conducted in cooperation with a private partner entity, the Ephrathah Farms in Badiangan, Iloilo.
Aside from the programmable dehydrator machine, the project is expected to establish the drying protocol and optimum condition for best results, determine shelf life analysis of the finished product, and secure patent or utility model application for the machine and other technologies.
With this project, PCAARRD hopes that the local herbal tea industry in the country will gain leverage and be competitive in the world market.