Tea, which is the second most popular drink in the world, after water, is also an effective breath freshener.

What is the bad breath smell exactly? ...

The bad-egg smell that emanates from some unfortunate mouths is produced by bacteria that live on the tongue. These bacteria produce hydrogen sulphide, when they feed on the proteins that are also in the mouth. Gassy sulphur compounds are well known for being really stinky. Some bacteria produce another sulphur-containing gas, called methanethiol, and this has the oh-so-unpleasant aroma of rotting cabbage.

Bacteria don't live for long but they reproduce very fast, meaning that ordinarily you have a vibrant culture of microbes living and reproducing in your mouth. But tea can change that!

New research shows that, when the bacteria that cause bad breath are soaked in tea for 48 hours, they stop reproducing. Now if you don't fancy holding your breath for 2 days while you gargle with tea, then the really good news is that even drinking a single cup of tea can slow the bacteria down so that they don't produce so much smelly gas.

And what if you're a coffee-drinker

Bad news! The chemicals that do the debugging are compounds called polyphenols. You get these in ordinary 'black' tea and in green tea but not in coffee. So, if you're a coffee drinker with the kind of breath that leaves your mates reeling backwards, turning green and gasping, then maybe it's time to take a tea break.


Writer: Berry Billingsley

A page selected from the ATOM-award-winning site ...

Written and project managed by Berry Billingsley for the Department of Education