No, that’s not a typo. It is, in fact, Labobatory, as in “boba.” You may have read my review of Boba 7, a boba shop in Downtown Los Angeles that served alcoholic boba drinks. Unfortunately, Boba 7 closed at the end of last year, but its owner opened a shop in San Gabriel that rocks just as hard.
The drinks at Labobatory are just as fantastic, even though they don’t contain alcohol. What makes them so good? Interesting recipes, fresh ingredients, customizable without being confusing. As a bonus, the whole shop has a cheeky attitude about it that I enjoy.
My favorite drink is the Lebanese Rose Milk Tea, which the boba-ista told me is their most popular offering. It’s dairy-free; they use non-dairy creamer that doesn’t taste artificial or weird. (You can ask for regular milk if you wish).
Most boba places use a nasty-tasting rose syrup to make rose milk tea, but Labobatory uses Lebanese rose water. It tastes better and doesn’t add any sweetness. And the boba balls are perfectly chewy. But even without boba, this drink is divine. Don’t let the light color fool you — this tea is strong as hell and packed with caffeine.
I’ve also sampled the Bobatella, a boba drink made with Nutella, and the Yoli, a yogurt green tea with lychee jelly. Both were delicious, but the Lebanese Rose Milk still wins. A couple of the best drinks from Boba 7 — the Horchata and the Creamsicle — have migrated to Labobatory’s menu, now made without alcohol.
Once a month, Labobatory does an alcoholic boba pop-up in Downtown LA at Seven Bar & Lounge, close to the original Boba 7 location. I haven’t had a chance to go yet, but it’s on my must-do list.
By the way, I hear you can get your boba drink in an Erlenmeyer flask at Labobatory, unless you’re getting it to go. Just another fun scientific touch, along with the microscope on the counter. I won’t tell you what you’ll see when you look into the eyepiece — you’ll just have to find out for yourself.
LABOBATORY, 819 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776