TAMPA — Kung Fu Tea is the latest entry in the bay area's growing tea market, serving a variety of drinks in a sleek, modern setting.
The specialty is bubble tea, a mix of tea, milk, fruit sugar and boba, those tapioca pearls that give the tea a chewy burst of flavor. Boba can take first-timers by surprise as they pop up through the oversized straw. But that is all part of the fun.
Other offerings include traditional hot and cold tea, fruit-infused tea punch, and the Kung Fu Slush (think smoothie with a tea twist). All of the tea-based drinks are packed with antioxidants, which studies suggest help lower cholesterol and curb weight gain.
Drinks are made using high-quality, fresh ingredients. Brewing time is closely monitored, and Kung Fu Tea's signature tea-shaking machine ensures the flavors are evenly distributed.
Kung Fu Tea offers a drive-through for those on the go, but an inviting interior beckons with comfy couches. "This is the perfect place to sit back and relax or study," said Jin H. Lin, who opened the franchise along with Rendi Liu. The Tampa location is the first in Florida, but promises not to be the last.
Kung Fu Tea is at 1202 E Fowler Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Visit kfteausa.com.
Repeal 18 replaces Twisted Olive
WESTCHASE — If an adult beverage is in order, check out Westchase's newest watering hole, Repeal 18. Nestled in the heart of West Park Village in the location that formerly housed the Twisted Olive, Repeal 18 is a handcrafted cocktail lounge straight out of the 1930s.
The completely revamped interior harkens back to the prohibition era, which inspired the name. Pendant lighting casts a warm red glow on the brick and wood-paneled walls. Oil lamps, votive candles and a bevy of Jack Daniel's whiskey barrels add to the ambience. An electric fireplace is flanked by rocking chairs, perfect for unwinding with a cold drink.
The drink menu, titled "the Daily Booze," features classics like a Moscow mule and a proper old-fashioned, as well as an updated take on the gin rickey. The cocktails are crafted by hand and many are infused with fresh-squeezed citrus juices that give them a light, refreshing twist. A wide selection of craft beer, wine and "hooch" rounds out the menu.
Pool and darts are free. Playing cards, Jenga and board games are also available.
"The overall reaction has been nothing but positive," Repeal 18's marketing director, Elizabeth Edwards, said. "We wanted the bar to have a classy yet comfortable feel, and I believe we have achieved that."
Repeal 18 is at 9882 W Linebaugh Ave. The bar opens daily at 5 p.m. (4 p.m. on Fridays), with happy hour until 8 p.m. Starting June 22, they will be open Sundays beginning at noon and will feature "Yappy Hour," a dog-friendly day complete with water bowls and treats for Fido and specials on Bloody Marys, mimosas and other specialty cocktails for his human.
For more information, visit repeal-18.com or call (813) 926-6746.
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