If you’re the kind of person who enjoys clever drink names, then you’ll love Labobatory, my favorite boba tea shop in the San Gabriel Valley. The drink in the picture above is called “50 Shades of Earl Grey.” The name alone is cool. The fact that it’s actually grey makes it that much cooler.
What makes it grey? Charcoal. I asked the boba-ista what the charcoal does, thinking that it had some health benefits, and she said, “Nothing really. We just put it in there for the color.” But then she added that some people do take charcoal supplements for detoxification purposes. I could use some detoxifying, for sure.
My go-to drink from Labobatory is the Lebanese Rose Milk Tea, which remains the best rose milk tea I’ve ever had. Like rose milk tea, Earl Grey milk teas are fairly common at boba shops. But Labobatory takes common drinks and does them to perfection. The 50 Shades of Earl Grey, though not wildly different from other boba shops’ Earl Grey teas, was the best one I’ve ever had in terms of quality.
The flavor of the tea is strong but not bitter or too heavy on the bergamot. The dairy-free milk is smooth and creamy. (They use non-dairy creamer unless you specify otherwise; they also offer regular milk, soy milk, and almond milk.) The drink comes out the perfect temperature and has just the right amount of ice.
But here’s what I like best: You can adjust the sweetness level, even to 0%. At many boba shops, if you ask them to make an Earl Grey milk tea with no sugar, they can’t do it. Why? Because they use a pre-sweetened Earl Grey powder or syrup, rather than making the drink from freshly brewed Earl Grey tea. Since I don’t like my tea sweetened, I will go out of my way to find boba shops like Labobatory.
And did I mention that my drink was grey??? This is the type of beverage that will get you a lot of views on Instagram, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.
I declined getting the boba pearls in my 50 Shades of Earl Grey because I’m trying to cut down on carbs. But even without those chewy little bombs, this drink was top-notch. I just hope that the owner of Labobatory opens a shop in L.A. again — the now-defunct Boba 7, which offered alcoholic boba drinks, was a true gem.
LABOBATORY, 819 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776