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'Night milk' gains following in Korea

Publication Date : 30-06-2012


Ttonatta Farm CEO Yang Eui-joo was traveling in the Netherlands six years ago when he first heard about “night milk”.

“I found out that there was milk like this in Britain and Japan,” said Yang, 41.

The milk Yang is referring to is generally called “night”, “night-time” or “nocturnal” milk and comes from cows that have been milked at night.

According to the Guardian and the Daily Mail, studies have found higher levels of the sleep hormone melatonin in milk from cows milked at night or at the break of dawn than in the daytime.

Such studies form the basis for the theory that consumption of “night milk” might help promote sleep and relaxation under the premise that the milk itself will contain more melatonin.

Naturally, “night milk” has its skeptics and supporters, but the idea of consuming melatonin is not new.

With some people already taking melatonin in pill form, it makes sense that the milk might appeal to those already accustomed to taking the sleep hormone, which might be why over the past years it has appeared in Britain, Japan and Germany.

Yang says he started producing “night milk” on his farm in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, some four years ago.

While Yang’s Ttonatta Farm also produces regular milk, the demand for “night milk”―which is produced in smaller quantities between midnight and 4am―is far higher, according to Yang.

That was not how it was in the beginning, however. The initial response was not so warm. Then a few months ago, when Ttonatta’s “night milk” started to be sold in Gangnam, it started to take off, said Yang.

“Celebrities and movie directors came to our store and began to give the milk to people as gifts,” said L’Atelier Monique manager Lee Won-young, 29, whose bakery-pastry shop in Cheongdam-dong started selling Ttonatta Farm’s “night milk” last August.

At first, customers came to purchase bread and then ended up buying milk as well. Now, says Lee, customers come for the milk and then get bread. At the bakery’s COEX Hyundai Department Store outlet, many customers come for the milk alone.

“People who tried it kept coming back to buy it,” said Lee, who says some customers come from far away to purchase the milk.

“Mothers and office workers in the area are the main customer base,” Lee added.

So, what does Ttonatta Farm’s “night milk” taste like?

The milk tastes like, well, milk, albeit a nutty, rich version with a sweet aftertaste, a flavour profile Yang attributes in part to the pasteurization method he uses, which favours pasteurizing milk over a longer period at a lower temperature than the industry standard.

For that reason, the milk expires within six days, which is why it is shipped almost every day to L’Atelier Monique where it is sold in small batches at 1,400 to 5,500 won at the department store shop and 2,500 won to 8,500 won at the Cheongdam store for 180 ml to 1 litre bottles.

“We do that to keep it fresh,” Lee said. “It is best to have it when it is its tastiest.”

“Customers drink it in the morning or any time of day and there are some mothers who say that they give it to their children at night,” said Lee.

“We sell most of it on a daily basis. There are many days when we are completely sold out. Customers that come late in the day will find it hard get a bottle.”


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