The first time I heard about Labobatory was on my newsfeed on Facebook. It was a video about their #Bobatella flavored drink, which was basically Nutella milk tea with honey boba. I thought to myself, “Oh, this looks good, but I don’t understand what is the big deal with Nutella milk tea.”
There is only one Labobatory in San Gabriel and it recently opened this year. I arrived at Labobatory around 4 p.m. with a warm welcome from the workers. As I walked in the building, I actually expected a unique look from the tea shop. But the inside of the tea shop was nothing flashy—just an ordinary, clean-looking little place with a decent amount of customers. It wasn’t really meant for dining in but more for picking up drinks to-go.
The menu was filled with interesting brewed drinks along with a sweetness level from zero percent to one hundred percent for any drink. There were unique flavors with creative names such as #BobaFéte, #FuegoMango, Purple DREAm, ABG (Asian Boba Girl), Prosotea, #LebaneseRoseMilk along with the generic fruity and tea flavors. However, the first thing that caught my attention from the menu was the price of each drink. All drinks cost over four dollars without tax, which is unreasonably high in my opinion.
I asked the cashier what their most popular drinks were and was recom- mended the Purple DREAm, a taro drink with Fosselman’s Ube Ice Cream Float. I ordered two drinks, an ordinary boba milk tea and the Purple DREAm. They cost me about $11 total, with the milk tea at $4.25 and the Purple DREAm at six dollars.
At first, I expected the Purple DREAm to have a unique look to compliment its name, but it had an ordinary purple colored look. I thought the boba was good, with a warm, sweet chewy texture. The tea had a balanced sweetness and a strong kick of ube, which was okay in my opinion—just not worth the price. I believe it’s not a drink meant for everyone, unless you are willing to try it.
Overall, I believe that Labobatory is good, but not good enough. Yes, they do have interesting mixtures of drinks, and they are quite good, but the price doesn’t make it worth buying. Labobatory is definitely unique, but it is overrated in my opinion. Despite the price, I’d recommend to at least try it out and see what it’s all about.
Originally printed in SGHS's The Matador in their Feburary issue. Written by Nian Capili. Reprinted with permission.