Late last Saturday night, 21-year-old Steven "Austin" Underhill drank tea his fraternity brothers at James Madison University brewed with the ancient opiate poppy seed. The junior engineering student was found dead the next day in what police believe to be a direct result of the "poppy" brew.

"We know based on the research we’ve done that it does have lethal effects and that the victim consumed it," Harrisonburg Lt. of Special Operations Chris Rush told The Daily News. "This is the first case we’ve had around here. There’s nothing to indicate there was any kind of initiation."

Poppy seeds contain various concentrations of morphine and codeine, both of which are opiates and controlled substances with addictive properties. Overdosing on morphine can cause death by filling up the lungs with fluid passed from the bloodstream, known as pulmonary edema — this is consistent with lethal doses of opiates. Because the concentration of morphine in poppy seeds can vary greatly, it makes it difficult to predict the type of high or level of danger a person consuming the tea is possibly subjecting themselves to.

According to a study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, morphine content can be anywhere from two to 251 times in strength depending upon the exact seed type, harvesting time, how well seeds were washed, among other factors. It’s not the poppy seeds itself that contain opiates, but rather it's residual pollen passed onto the seeds from the pods it grows in during the harvesting process.

What's more, poppy seeds sold in bulk in the supermarket are not regulated in relation to the amount of opiates they contain because they are intended for baking purposes. The poppy seeds in Underhill's case were reportedly purchased at a local Harrisonburg store near the university. Since then, many drug and grocery stores in the area have decided to take poppy seeds off of their shelves in fear of contributing to someone’s death or addiction. One shop has decided to require a proof-of-business license in order to purchase the seeds.

The process of brewing poppy seeds to achieve a morephine-like can take 15 to 20 minutes, and the effect can last roughly 24 hours; the residue creates a hallucinogenic high when brewed in high quantities. But the tea is known to have a very bitter and foul taste, which may be why it hasn't reached a height of popularity.

Underhill's exact cause of death is still unknown. A pending toxicology report, urine and blood samples will reveal the concentrated presence of both morphine and codeine if the tea was the student's cause of death. Investigators plan to test the poppy seed tea consumed the night of his death and compare it to samples found in the report.