BEHIND THE PLATE
Coming Soon: Oprah's Chai Tea

"You get a chai! And you get a chai! Everybody gets a chai!"

Oprah Winfrey has officially announced the creation of her own signature chai blend, Oprah Chai Tea, which is set to be released in the USA and Canada on April 29th. After working with experts at Starbucks and Teavana, Oprah was able to create a beverage which features the flavors of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves, all blended together with black and rooibos (red) loose-leaf teas. Once the blend is released for sale at Starbucks and Teavana locations across the USA and Canada, a portion of the profits will be donated to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. This charity assists in creating educational opportunities for kids and teenagers throughout the world, providing just another reason to indulge in this brand new product.

BEST OF
The 8th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival NYC

Caffeine overload! Joonbug’s still got the caffeine jitters from attending the 8th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival NYC. We practically traveled the world of cocoa farms and tea plantations. The event was held at the 69th Regiment armory and was jam packed with 60 exhibitors from everywhere, Puerto Rico, India, China, and Africa to name a few. Some non-coffee and tea companies also made an appearance.

Here are the top three unique coffee and tea products Joonbug came across:

  • ULIV Java, which makes coffee infused with herbs and teas. The company started when Mary realized that even though she didn’t like green tea, it didn’t mean she couldn’t get the health benefits. She approached her nutritionist friend, Kathleen, and together they created ULIV brand for people who don’t like herbal teas but still want to get its health benefits. ULIVE Lean is one of the products that is blended with herbs known for helping weight loss, increasing metabolism, and burning fat. Check it out, We bought a bag and have been drinking it every morning!
  • Stella Artois, infused their beer with tea… ummmm amazing, the tea flavor was subtle but we enjoyed it nonetheless. You probably have to have an affinity for tea to enjoy this product. Since iced teas are such a great drink for a hot day, combine that with beer, and you have a bangin’ summer beverage to drink on a rooftop, balcony, or during those Hampton’s weekend trips with your friends.
  • Press Tea, always makes their tea fresh and is pressed like coffee. They were sampling products that will be sold at their store opening this May in the West Village. You can check out a video of how they make the tea on their Facebook. They also make their own cream that is sometimes used to top off your drink. I say always get the cream on top!
DAILY BITES
Health Products You Never Knew You Craved

Being healthy is...always a thing. It's hard at the start but once you've got a routine going along with daily bites that compliment your taste buds, you're all set! Sure, we all love to binge on pizza and beer, but the best trend of all this year is about eating right. It's time to kick obesity to the curb and we've rounded up some of the healthiest and tastiest ways to do it!

Health Warrior Chia Bars: This small snack bar will change your life. Chia Bars are 100% natural, nutrient-rich and are about 100 calories each. They are packed with the ultimate superfood you've never heard of called Chia. Believe it or not, chia seeds have more omega 3 fatty acids than salmon, more fiber than oatmeal, more protein than tofu, more calcium than milk, and more magnesium than broccoli. The vegan, dairy and soy-free bars come in multiple flavors, including Acai Berry, Coconut, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. You can purchase a box of chia bars here for $23.50.

DAILY BITES
Sweetleaf Williamsburg: A Delightful Addition

Sweetleaf Williamsburg opened back in May after the success of its sister location in Long Island City --a bean lover's staple since 2008.

The new Sweetleaf is located on the corner of Kent Avenue and North 6th Street, a fine location for people to stroll down, window shop, pick up a coffee and then head down to the water. If they want a coffee to stay, the interior of Sweetleaf is quite spacious and relaxing. They have decorated this café with antiques, such as aged scales and fans, along with old doors used to support many of the wooden structures, like the counters and tables. Customers can relax in one of the lounge chairs, small tables or stools set up on counters. If they have not carried their own reading material, Sweetleaf provides a basket full of magazines and newspapers they can access.

LIQUID COURAGE
Iced Tea Cocktails For Everyone

Don 't celebrate National Iced Tea Day like a square...add some fun (aka booze) into your life by trying some of these delicious iced tea cocktails! Sunday June 10th is the day to imbibe, so check out some of these great NYC bars that serve up iced tea cocktails, or check out the recipes to whip up some of your own!


Jbird Cocktails
The Imperial March Chinese Black Tea infused Cognac 1st Cru, Raspberry Syrup, Lime Juice, Champagne

The Haberdasher
The Blues Sisters Gin, Housemade Wild Blueberry Tea Syrup, lemon, lime, muddles basil and blueberries, bottomed with charged water and topped with bitters

Bistro The Tea Set
Summer Village Martini Grey Goose vodka, red peach vanilla tea syrup, soda, mint leaves, served on the rocks
Organic Big Apple Mate Champagne Cocktails Champagne and big apple mate tea syrup

DAILY BITES
Tea Time: Blu Tavalon Cafe

On April 4th, Blu Cafe by Tavalon, the popular e-commerce premium tea purveyor officially opened their first US tea bar (in addition to 2 cafes in South Korea). But this ain't your average tea party. Some of the unique bevvies on the menu include tea sodas, which are house made tea syrups infused into soda water, with flavors such as peachy oolong, summer fruits, crimson punch, and jasmine dream. They even offer up tea floats, comprised of tea soda and tea-flavored froyo. Other unique creations include the Upper West Side Detox (NYC breakfast tea with Korean ginger slices), Breakfast Cereal Tea (ground Job's tears grains infused into hot frothy milk), and a Roiboos or coconut mate latte for the caffeine-crazy. Iced tea options are also available, with flavors including the MoTeajo (iced green tea with lemongrass, peppermint, or lime) and can be transformed into bubble tea for an additional charge.

ART
Joel Robison’s World of Books

There isn’t much in the world that can capture the feeling of being happily lost in the world of books. The journey to worlds we may never see is one that can start at any age. Simply picking up a book opens us up to new ideas and makes us a part of stories more grand than the universe we know. It’s hard to capture the years of wonder lining our bookshelves. That, however, hasn’t stopped a brilliant Canada-based photographer from trying, and making parts of that sensation wonderful and real.

Joel Robison, also known as boywonder (a user name we’re pretty fond of), creates some wonder of his own with photos based around the world of books. He explores both the comfort of reading and the worlds books open up for their readers. Paper dragons, whales that travel through pages, and worlds imbued with the magic created by books are only a few of the sights to see in the boy wonder’s photography. His self-portraits are at once cozy and mystifying. Tea cups and books welcome the viewer into a world just ever so slightly different for our own. In some pictures, Robison is tiny and the world is big. They capture how vast and engulfing some story worlds are--how small we are when peeking into worlds that are not our own, worlds that may not exist.

DAILY BITES
Tea: The Natural Way to Allergy Relief

With a mild winter, spring has arrived early this year and the warm weather has been welcomed with open arms --unless you are a seasonal allergy sufferer!

The buds are already starting to bloom and symptoms of sneezing, runny noses, itchy eyes and scratchy throats are starting to become apparent to some. Most have chosen the method of taking over-the-counter medications for temporary relief. However, in this city, who has time to feel groggy all day? Like any New Yorker, allergies can be a burden and slow down your busy day.

DAILY BITES
Have Your Tea and Smoke It Too!

We live in a constantly rushed, high-paced society where we never turn off our phones and check emails the second we wake. Everyone could benefit from taking a second to breathe deeply, close our eyes, and go frolic in our happy place for a moment. Some achieve this with a glass of wine, others with a hot cup of tea, and now thanks to Raganella’s Botanical Solutions, some have taken to smoking their herbal teas.

Liz Neves, founder, has created an all-natural, ethical body care company specializing in “solutions for everyday issues” by using healing plants in over 30 plant-based products. By blending wholesome, recognizable ingredients in her Brooklyn kitchen, Liz wishes to return to the healing plant system that we evolved from that we’ve drifted from in our very busy world. Her first thought when creating a new blend is the solution for an ailment by using something from the plant world. For example, Yummy Tummy Tea Blend is a blend of ingredients known for centuries to heal an upset stomach, such as ginger, licorice, and chamomile.

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Local Hotspots for a Spot of Tea

Though tea has long enjoyed an understated popularity, it appears that it's now getting its righteous props. In that spirit, tea preens and postures with its pinkies up, and much like any good debutante, can be found these days making steady appearances as an A-lister at formal tables and local Main Streets.

There is nothing quite like wrapping your hands around a warm mug or in the warmer months, hearing the clunking of crystal ice cubes piled high in a tall glass of the iced variety. It seems like around every corner there’s a new tea coming to market. How does one choose between Earl Grey and English Breakfast? Chamomile or Mango Crème? White tea or green tea?