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Sheryl Tan of We Are Cultured

The proponent of probiotics on giving you the exact dose needed in a cup of tea and how to make gut health-friendly Tang Yuen.

For most of us, our digestive system isn’t the first thing that pops into mind when we think about personal health issues. But gut health is paramount for a wholesome being. After all, “we are 40 trillion bacteria and 30 trillion human cells,” says researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

If you’re anything like us and troll beauty and wellness websites and Instagram feeds on a daily basis, you’ve read articles bearing headlines like “5 signs you have an unhealthy gut, and how to heal it” — and seen countless more on tips and hacks to getting cultured.

For We Are Cultured’s founder, Sheryl Tan, gut health wasn’t really on her radar before a seven-year battle with leaky gut issues changed everything. But with her company’s Teabiotic range, Sheryl is “going into times where super bugs reign and antibiotics have lost their appeal.”

Prevention > cure, we say. Knowing now, more than ever before, that a optimal digestive health affects every part of our selves — from sleep to skin, immunity to inflammation, diet to disposition — we have a newfound sense of purpose when it comes to taking care of our bodies from within.

“Probiotics give our bodies the good bacteria that we need to help line our guts against toxins, and guards us against problems like inflammation and indigestion.”

Tell us how Teabiotic started, and how the idea of a probiotic tea in this form came about.

We Are Cultured was born out of a journey walked. Our first-hand experience with leaky gut issues sparked off a revelation of how powerful the unseen is — the prowess of imperceptible ‘good for you’ bacteria; and its battle of our second brain, the gut.

We hope to inspire a new generation of individuals to seek a wiser way of living by getting cultured on building a strong foundation with the gut and immunity. Our biotic-based creations are transparently and harmoniously crafted with the best, anchored in tradition, and poised for the future.

We Are Cultured’s AVA-approved (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore) facility is armed with rigorous protocols towards cross-contamination and allergen handling — all dedicated to the discerning, educated consumers. Step aside Sherlock, we got our bases covered.

How exactly does probiotics work for our bodies, and what kind of strains and in what dosage should one look out for when shopping for probiotic supplements?

Probiotics, in general layman terms, give our bodies the good bacteria that we need to help line our guts (a low level of good bacteria allows more toxins to pass through the gut) against toxins, and guards us against problems like inflammation, indigestion etc.

A comfortable dosage is 2.4 billion CFUs per day, which is what you’ll get in one packet of Teabiotic.

What’s the difference between the effects of probiotics from Teabiotic and those in foods like yoghurt, supplement pills or powdered packets?

“Gut fortification is the foundation,” says the brand

It’s difficult to say exactly what strain of bacteria will have what effects on a person as people’s bodies and systems differ from one to the next. There is also not enough research done on individual strains of bacteria to truly have an accurate comparison table.

Good bacteria is good for us, bottom line, and the body rejects excess bacteria — for example, through gas — so it’s usually never a case of having too much.

Probiotic pills are mostly pasteurised, so they are already dead and don’t have as high level or percentage of efficiency as our Teabiotic; though they are also good and beneficial.

Teabiotic powders feature premium freeze dried ingredients that retain up to 90 per cent nutrition as compared to 60 per cent through traditional drying processes

What is the best time in the day to consume probiotics, and how often should we do so?

I think you should usually take it with food, so that your gut is already lined, and the probiotics are less susceptible to the acids in your stomach and intestinal tracts.

To what extent are its benefits ‘destroyed’ or eliminated if probiotics are not stored properly?

Probiotic bacteria are naturally sensitive to heat. Heat can kill organisms. When they die, they are no longer effective.

What is the health significance of using “ceremonial grade” matcha in Teabiotic?

In short, it is made with less “aggression” and loses less of its natural form.

There are a couple of differences in ceremonial grade matcha vs regular matcha. The difference is in the method of production. Ceremonial grade is the highest grade made from the youngest tea leaves. Culinary grade is also made from young leaves, but they are a little older.

Matcha is ground into powder using a slow-turning wheel, which helps minimise friction and retain more nutrients, chlorophyll and green colour, as it is subject to less “assault” during production.

You can read more about the benefits here.

Tell us about three standout ingredients in your tea flavours, and how they are beneficial to one’s health.

Turmeric: Its benefits do not pale in comparison to those of pharmaceutical medications. This bright yellow spice has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, haemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain and colic.

Yacon root: Yacon tubers are mostly composed of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and water. This means that the majority of the carbohydrate sugars cannot be digested by the body, resulting in a very low calorie level and a prevention of excess sugar coming into the bloodstream.

It contains compounds that function as prebiotics in the body, improving digestive health and treating certain types of colitis. These prebiotic properties influence the development of microflora in the digestive tract, leading to improved gastrointestinal fermentation. It has the ability to regulate blood sugar levels, lower “bad” cholesterol, help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, improve the health of the liver, prevent certain types of cancer, boost digestive health, and strengthen the immune system.

Yacon root is a prebiotic, like fertiliser for probiotics.

Ginger: Ginger has long been credited as a very effective remedy of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract).

Research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.

Tang Yuen recipe using Teabiotic

What you’ll need:

2-4 sachets of WAC Pure Ma-Cha

Ginger syrup

4 sachets of WAC coconut sugar or 4 tablespoons of honey

1 ½ cups of water

2-3 pandan leaves (tied into a knot)

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and slightly pounded

Glutinous rice balls

2 cups glutinous rice flour

7 oz water

matcha bamboo whisk

We Are Cultured’s 100 Prong Bamboo Matcha Chasen Whisk is used to aerate your tea

Directions: To prepare the syrup, boil water in a pot, add the pandan leaves and ginger, and bring to boil on medium heat until you smell the aroma of ginger and pandan. Add the honey/coconut sugar and let simmer for 15 minutes.

In a big bowl, mix glutinous flour with water and knead with hands to form a dough.

The dough is done when it doesn’t stick to your hands.

Divide the dough in balls, drop into boiling water for approximately 1 minute or until they float to the top.

Pour the syrup water over the glutinous rice balls, and add 1 sachet of WAC Pure Ma-Cha upon serving.

teabiotics from we are cultured

Finally, what is your idea of conscious living?

Knowing the origins of what I am consuming and using on my body and skin. Knowing that I am making the most of what nature provides me to the best of their abilities, and not manipulating and abusing produce, ingredients and resources.

Images courtesy of We Are Cultured