Researchers develop probiotic tea and coffee for double the gut action

Man pours tea from kettle into mug
Photo: The Washington Post (Getty Images)

I developed a near-pathological obsession with probiotics in 2018. I read a couple articles about gut health and immediately stocked up on probiotic vitamins, kombucha, Greek yogurt, and fermented foods like kimchi. A few months later, I landed myself in the ICU with debilitating gut pain and an ever-present internal gurgling. The diagnosis? Bacterial overgrowth. My overzealous probiotic habit turned my body into a microbial house party, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you—as long as you stick to maybe one probiotic-rich product a day. Like the new probiotic-rich coffee and tea from researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

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To create the coffee, researchers added selected nutrients and probiotics to brewed coffee and let it ferment for 24 hours. The tea, on the other hand, ferments for two days and also maintains its polyphenols, micronutrients that may ward off disease. The researchers maintain that the fermentation process won’t mess with the flavors of either product. “Some of the probiotic coffees give better-balanced acidity, some give better mouthfeels, some have deeper smoky flavors, and some can retain the coffee flavor better after long-term storage,” researcher Alcine Chan said in a press release. Another researcher, Wang Rui, adds that the tea also tastes like, well, tea. “The probiotic tea tastes like fruit tea with a little bit of acidity, and a similar mouthfeel to the original tea,” she said in the release.

The products aren’t available just yet, but the researchers have filed a patent and hope to join forces with food and beverage companies for future distribution. If you manage to get your hands on a cuppa, just remember: moderation in all things, especially things that can turn your insides into a red-hot bacterial water slide. I’ll let you mull over the implications of that statement.

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