The start of 2020 saw Brent Stoffel; his fiancée, Tracy Nguyen; and her business partner, Ty Nguyen, bubbling with excitement about a dream to bring a new business venture to Blaine: Freshly Leaf boba tea.

Bubble tea aficionados themselves, Tracy Nguyen and Ty Nguyen hatched a plan to open a store next to the nail salon they already owned, GNO Nails Spa, because the nearest boba shop was several miles down Highway 65, according to Stoffel.

The trio knew they had a recipe for success at 11724 Ulysses St. NE because of the location’s proximity to Jefferson and Johnsville elementary schools, Roosevelt Middle School and Blaine High School. The target market for boba is school-aged children, according to Stoffel.

The partners set about making their dream a reality in early 2020, but the pandemic and supply chain issues slowed progress.

Originally, the boba tea spot was set to open its doors in February 2021, but it wasn’t until Nov. 18 that Freshly Leaf had its grand opening after a soft opening in August.

“We’re still experiencing some issues getting stuff,” Stoffel said.

The product that is in stock has been well received.

Boba tea, or bubble tea, is a cold beverage that originally developed in Taiwan. The trademark “bubbles” are actually tapioca pearls.

Several things set Freshly Leaf apart from other bubble tea shops, according to Stoffel — chiefly that each cup is brewed with a fresh tea bag. Often boba shops will brew a large batch of tea in the morning to use throughout the day.

At Freshly Leaf, it’s fresh.

“It sounds kind of cliché, but it’s actually true in our sense,” Stoffel said.

The environment is another thing Freshly Leaf has going for it.

“We’re not looking as sterile as the other places,” Stoffel said, noting the fresh flowers on tables and relaxing atmosphere. He gives his fiancée all the credit.

The most popular menu item at Freshly Leaf is the supreme signature milk tea, which is a black tea with crème brûlée, non-dairy cream and black boba. The jungle and tropical fruit teas are also ordered frequently, according to Stoffel.

Regular toppings are black pearl, aloe vera, pudding, red bean and lychee coconut.

Popping boba is also available and in various flavors: lychee, mango, strawberry, passion fruit, yogurt and peach. Stoffel describes it as similar to Starburst candy with a flavor burst.

Special toppings include jelly boba, chia seed and sweet taro with crème brûlée and cheese foam available at a premium upcharge.

You can customize the sugar level in each individual beverage.

The store opens daily at 11 a.m., closing at 8 p.m. most evenings and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

You can find Freshly Leaf on Facebook. A website is in development, and the business aspires to offer the ability to order online.

All of the reviews online are glowing.

“The energy and the response has been overwhelming,” Stoffel said. “Word of mouth has been a big thing for us.”

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