SPOTLIGHT | Assessing Tea Digitally

18m | Jun 21, 2024

SPOTLIGHT | Assessing Tea Digitally

A half dozen critical tea supply chain handoffs require quality control assessments By producers and processors, traders, wholesale buyers, and retailers. Ascertaining and predicting tea quality at each step is time-sensitive, laborious, and expensive. Newly developed cloud-based predictive and prescriptive profilers powered by artificial intelligence are redefining transactions by offering buyers and sellers unbiased reference points. These portable devices expedite quality assessment by producing an affordable digital profile that is as unique as a fingerprint and traceable. Profiles combine tasting notes and test results on-site in minutes.

Tea Biz invited the development team at ProfilePrint in Singapore to describe their technology and its application to tea. Sherman Ho, Chief Science and Technology Officer, Ellis Chua, Chief Commercial Officer, and Hoe Phong Tham, Head of Corporate at Profile Print, joined us for the briefing with tea buyer Ravi Pillai, Director of Quality and Development at DAVIDsTea in Montreal.

ProfilePrint Founder Alan Lai is a pioneer in digital food identity as a service (IDassS), which uses AI-driven portable analyzers to gather complex molecular data from ingredient samples. The result is a digital fingerprint that establishes the identity and predicts the quality of rice, grains, seeds (including coffee and cocoa), tea leaves, spices, and oils.

Alan explains that the objective is not to replace tasters who manually evaluate hundreds of cups daily, combining art and skill beyond the existing technology. The hyperspectral analysis is comparable to an off-site lab, but buyers and sellers benefit most from combining an organoleptic assessment to create a model of what they want. Sellers create a model of what they offer in a digital marketplace where matches are made in milliseconds.

The analyzers also reduce repetitive and mundane tasks like screening out undesirable samples before the meticulous preparation required for cupping. “Our clients view ProfilePrint as an apprentice who is ready to learn and helps complete tasks the same way we would have done them ourselves, freeing us up to focus on the more complex tasks,” he said. “Industry professionals don't enjoy mundane and repetitive jobs, but they still prefer to personally complete them as much as practically possible because it's difficult to rely on others when they are ultimately still held responsible.” Trusting and training an apprentice takes years without the certainty that it will always succeed,” writes Lai.

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