For those having to venture to the eastside (or are lucky enough to just be in the area) for Zero Express or Signal Hill for Honeysuckle to experience decent boba will have another option more centrally located: Loose Leaf Boba Company has opened up shop with a soft opening, hours running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on select days with a formal grand opening on Sept. 15.
Located at 315 The Promenade North just above 3rd Street, Loose Leaf is an independently-run small business founded and owned by Thomas Liu. While Liu had announced the shop’s opening earlier this year, it hadn’t opened its doors until this weekend.
And while milk teas might be their staple—their Original Milk Tea, an addicting, sweet blend of black teas and a milk of your choice (including oat milk), is one of their most solid—they offer coffee options as well, specifically cà phê đá, or Vietnamese-style iced coffee.
Loose Leaf’s has a version that sticks to the classic preparation method: Strain ground, deeply dark roasted coffee through a stainless steel filter—this is the kind of caffeinated liquid that is the precise opposite of light, nuanced third wave roasts common to Long Beach and beyond; this is coffee at its darkest—over some syrupy, sugary condensed milk and voila. The counterbalance between French-inspired dark roast coffee and the creaminess of condensed milk creates a very addicting concoction for one’s sweet tooth. (And they even offer a vegan condensed milk for those wishing to skip the dairy.)
But fear not, health-centric coffee addicts: Loose Leaf has an all-black version that skips on the sweet cream and goes straight for your stomach ulcer. Even more, they carry caffeine-obsessed coffee cult fave Death Wish Coffee, self-described as the world’s strongest coffee due to its incredibly high caffeine content. On top of that, they join nearby Berlin as one of the few places to score Stumptown Cold Brew on nitro.
Heading back to the teas, customers are even provided options to mix teas with coffees; dubbed Fifty50 and includes everything from Black on Black, a black tea with coffee, to Thai Hard, a Thai milk tea blended with coffee.
If you’re going for strict teas, there are plenty of plain iced options—the Genmaicha Green as a plain iced option is outright awesome—but their strength lies in the almighty milk tea. While not quite hitting the subtle brilliance of Little Tokyo’s MILK+T or Twinkle Brown Sugar, Loose Leaf is definitely heading toward being the milk tea center of the city.
And if there is any indication of it earning that honor, it would lie in their boba: Warm, fresh, and offered in a variety of syrups and flavors—their honey boba is the house staple—it isn’t the hard, too-chewy versions that sit in fridges for far too long.
In other words, check it out.
(FYI: Zero Express is located at 1785 Palo Verde Ave. at the northeast corner of the CSULB campus at Palo Verde and Atherton, a hole-in-the-wall joint that serves Matchata and is worth visiting. That’s right: horchata and matcha green tea powder, aligned and mixed into a wondrous concoction. You can also score strawberry horchata, sea salt jasmine milk tea, and a plethora of other wonderful, wonderful mixtures if you’re unable to make the trek into DTLB.)