Available in three approachable flavors, juni offers consumers an “effervescent drink that inspires and enhances both mind and body” by blending adaptogens and nootropics with green tea and either peach, tropical or lemon flavors and a touch of stevia for sweetness with only 5 calories per serving, according to the startup.
The inspiration for the tea, which Devlukia-Shetty describes as her and her husband’s “pandemic baby,” came from their deep personal connection to and passion for tea, which they both grew up drinking hot with their families either as part of reflective, comforting ritual or for medicinal benefits.
“We both really love our tea,” Devlukia-Shetty said. “[Jay] had a history of coming home as a child and having a cup of tea with this mom… And after every meal, my whole family would decide what teas they want and we would all sit together and drink our teas after,” pulling on the tradition in Indian culture of drinking tea to heal the body and mind.
“For me, it was also about how do I use the herbs and spices that have changed my life so much, really as medicines,” drawing on lessons learned from childhood but also an ayurvedic course taken during the pandemic, Devlukia-Shetty said.
“And so, we started with hot teas, but then realized hot tea is much more of a British-thing, where we grew up, and that in America everybody loves having a sparkling drink with their meals or on-the-go. It is a part of this culture, and we really appreciated that” and wanted to meet US consumers where they are – blending traditions from both cultures, she said.
Balancing benefits and taste expectations
The duo aslo wanted to offer a beverage with benefits for both the body and the mind.
So often, ready-to-drink beverages in the US rely on caffeine to help sharpen consumers’ minds and provide a temporary energy boost, but Devlukia-Shetty says that high can be short lived and is often followed by a sharp drop in energy and focus when the caffeine wears off.
She explained that juni offers a small dose of caffeine but sources it from green tea and l-theanine for a softer experience that is also paired with benefits from antioxidants. Each can also includes what the company calls its “Super-5 blend” to renew energy, boost focus and support overall wellness.
In addition to the green tea, the blend includes ashwagandha for cognitive support and athletic endurance, reishi mushroom to “combat daily fatigue,” Lion’s Mane for cognitive support and to combat stress and acerola cherry for its high vitamin C and antioxidant content, Devlukia-Shetty said.
“Essentially what we wanted to offer was a way for consumers to get the caffeine and boost they look for in a tea or coffee but blend it with nootropics and adaptogens that would further help them focus and balance their energy levels,” Devlukia-Shetty said. “We offer a balance between mind function, which is from the nootropics, and body function, which is from the adaptogens.”
The duo landed on these five adaptogens and nootropics in part for the benefits that they offer but also because they are easier with which to formulate than some other adaptogens.
“Some adaptogens offer really exciting benefits and have strong research to support them, but they also have a flavor that isn’t great. So, you either have to reduce the levels to a point where you don’t get the benefit” or you have off notes that are hard to mask and off-putting to consumers, Devlukia-Shetty said.
Consumer interest in preventive health and nutrition’s role in well-being is rising
The launch of juni is well-timed to meet consumers’ rising interest in well-being and taking a more active role in maintaining and improving their health, said Devlukia-Shetty.
“During and following the pandemic, many people want to be able to take their health back into their own hands. In some ways, we felt so out of control of our own bodies and not understanding what was happening to us or what were being told to do,” she said.
“And that is when more people started to realized that what they put into their body affects their mind and body,” she said.
But many also face inflexible constraints around time and need convenient solutions – such as a ready to drink beverage.
“I really see juni as a bridge between people’s health,” curiosity about emotional and mental wellness and the realities of life, she said.
Recognizing that daily living varies tremendously among Americans, the young company plans to launch additional beverages going forward that are tailored to different needs. For example, Devlukia-Shetty said, the company is working on decaf options.
She said the company also sees potential to create children’s beverages, which is commonly requested by consumers, but she needs to research more on the impact of different adaptogens and nootropics on children and create blends that will safely serve them.
[Editor's note: Interested in learning more about what consumers want from functional beverages and where the segment is headed? Join FoodNavigator-USA at our upcoming free webinar 'Functional Beverages AM to PM: From energy and focus to clarity and calm.' Find all the details and register today.]