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Ancient Concepts, New Applications: Team Creates “Five Phases Chocolate”

Ancient Concepts, New Applications: Team Creates “Five Phases Chocolate”

A team of researchers headed up by Food Science professor Shyang-Chwen Sheu has been dedicating its time towards developing a new, health-focused treat that tastes good, looks good and incorporates a set of ideas that have roots extending back over 2000 years.

The “Five Phases” teaching on healthy living from ancient China was adopted as the theme for NPUST researchers working to apply modern food science techniques towards the development of chocolate treats with all natural ingredients. Agriculture products produced domestically in Taiwan, including dragon fruit, Roselle, lemon, and turmeric were used to get the flavors and colors just right. Through processing techniques including concentration, refining, extraction, drying and grinding – without adding any artificial food coloring or preservatives— the natural ingredients were mixed into the chocolate to create white, green, black and yellow colored “Five Phases Chocolate”.

The team worked to create a product that went beyond simply tasting good – they wanted to develop a treat that was also a feast for the eyes, and which could be enjoyed with peace of mind. The innovative way in which they applied ingredients from locally produced products will hopefully lead to added crop value for local farmers and increase rates of fruit consumption.

On December 28, at the College of Agriculture, the good manufacturing practices (GMP) factory report was made public and members of the team showed of their work.

Food Biotechnology master’s student Jun-Liang Lin joined the team on account of his “strong interest in chocolate production”. He made some comments on their research, explaining that in order to produce a healthy chocolate that is rich in color without using any artificial food coloring, they made use of natural dried fruit extracts. But retaining the health-promoting substances and flavor from the fruit is no easy feat, and it took over a year of continuous research to get the results they wanted.

Department of Food Science professor Shyang-Chwen Sheu explained that his department received funds from the MOE Paradigm Technology University Development Project and at the end of 2014 it established a simulated GMP production line primarily dedicated to coffee and chocolate products. Researchers work to develop new ways to use Taiwan’s domestic agriculture materials to create products with unique qualities.

Coordinating with cocoa development efforts in Pingtung, “Five Phases Chocolate” is one of their recent successes. The five phases, namely “metal (white), wood (green), water (black), fire (red) and earth (yellow) were interpreted and expressed by combining locally produced cocoa with black raisins for “metal creates water”; green tea chocolate together with soft red dragon fruit candy for “wood creates fire”; 70% dark chocolate for “water”; Roselle dragon fruit chocolate with soft lemon candy for “fire creates earth”; and turmeric chocolate with soft white coconut candy for “earth creates metal”.

Delicious, aesthetically pleasing, unique, local, and natural: Five Phases Chocolate adopted ideas from ancient China to create a product well suited for today— in a market where consumers care a great deal about health and food safety issues. Through technology transfer arrangements, the research can be used by food companies looking to add new items to their lines and will hopefully help farmers see additional demand for the products they are already producing. The project has also been an excellent experience for the students involved and should be beneficial to them when they look for employment in the future.

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