What do you do when you can’t find a space you want to hang out at? You open one.

That’s what best friends Jasmine Thong and Ana Luna are planning with Twelfth House Tea Sanctuary, a community space that will be by reservation only, providing unlimited cups of special-blend tea and no time limit for just $25 per reservation. The lounge will be located on the Westside, next to recently opened vegan restaurant PlanTita’s Kitchen.

“There’s a real need for people to have a third place, I think that’s been really emphasized after the pandemic,” Thong said, referring to a space that gives people somewhere to go besides work and home.

While many people choose to make bars those spaces, the co-owners hope Twelfth House can be a healing, healthy space for guests without the social pressures of drinking.

Jasmine Thong, left and Ana Luna at the soon-to-open Twelfth House Tea Sanctuary in Long Beach, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Many of their friends have decided to stop drinking, or lessen their alcohol consumption. At their lounge, they didn’t want to just offer water, instead choosing tea as an homage to Thong’s Cambodian ancestors.

“We want people to connect in a healthy, chill way,” Luna said.

The co-owners have been working with herbalist Kelly Matten to create special tea blends. The social ritual of connecting over tea is embedded in many cultures around the world. As they’ve been learning more about tea, Thong has felt especially connected with her own culture.

“We just want to bring this (tradition) back—this is what our ancestors were doing,” Thong said.

She hesitates to call their new venue a teahouse, though, because both women are still learning about the aromatic beverage and it won’t be a traditional teahouse. The name they chose, Twelfth House, comes from the last house in the Zodiac, which rules the subconscious dream world.

Events like those they hope to host at Twelfth House first started at Thong’s salon. The pair have popped up in each other’s lives for years, but after Thong became Luna’s hair stylist, they became inseparable.

“I ransacked my drawer to find her business card,” Luna said. At Thong’s salon, The Dancing Moon, they hosted sound baths—which use immersive sounds to help people relax—but they realized that with a space that wasn’t Thong’s daily workplace, they could do more.

Thong was born and raised in Long Beach and Luna, who was born in Mexico, has lived here for years. Their shared values of celebrating and building community, as well as their upbringing, brought them closer together.

“Long Beach is all one community; it’s small-business based,” Luna said. “That’s why we care so much about having this space.”

Hot tea is poured into a glass at the soon-to-open Twelfth House Tea Sanctuary in Long Beach, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.
House tea at the soon-to-open Twelfth House Tea Sanctuary in Long Beach, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Like many children of immigrant families, Thong and Luna grew up with many people living together in tight spaces that often lacked privacy.

“I never had anywhere we could study,” Luna said. Thong shared a bed with two family members until she moved out in her 20s. They hope in the future the lounge can be a safe place for kids to study or when someone just needs some peace and quiet.

They’d like the lounge to showcase people’s talents, whether that be open-mic events, art demonstrations or sound baths.

They’re planning to have large, comfy chairs and couches that can hold more than one person, and a small bar for the tea service. Eventually, they plan to take advantage of the location’s high ceiling to build a loft.

To start, Twelfth House will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 7 to 11 p.m. The pair may extend the days and hours depending on how many bookings they get.

“We want to feel out what the community needs,” Thong said.

If they pass city-required inspections, the entrepreneurs plan to open in mid-November. Reservations will be open soon and can be found here. For updates on upcoming events and the grand opening, follow Twelfth House on Instagram.

Twelfth House will be located at 1950 W. Willow St.