Nestled in an inconspicuous plaza on Las Tunas Drive, Labobatory constantly aims to experiment with uncommon pairings of ingredients that shape its menu every month.
When entering Labobatory, guests are greeted by the aesthetic of walking into a sterile testing lab made of all white flooring, countertop and nothing but decorative glass lab beakers filled with different powders and roots that give off a scientific sense of quality in their drinks.
Along the end of the counter, there are two large iPad ordering terminals where the entire periodic table of drinks is presented from monthly drinks first, all the way down to the basic green iced tea. These iPads allow drink customizations with options such as sweetness level, boba or additional toppings and milk/vegan substitutes.
There are also glossy menus next to the iPads that present the menu into periodic sections, much like in a chemistry class, with different ingredients and flavors forming groups such as Laws of Labobatory, Experimental, Control Group and ph/7 indicating how basic or ostentatious a drink may be due to its menu placement.
The November specials at the top of the menu list include drinks such as peach pie green tea, black sesame milk tea, pumpkin pie milk tea and a lemon sweet tea with club soda. The more popular drinks are below that with the fan-favorite Lebanese rose milk tea, the Asian Boba Girl coffee and 50 shades of earl grey.
The drinks we ordered included the Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa cough syrup green tea, the November lemon fizz, an Insta Mango lemonade and finally, 50 shades of earl grey. The Chinese cough syrup tea delightfully cleared up a sore throat that was caused by the change in weather recently, helping to soothe the congestion with its honey-lemon properties.
The lemon fizz was something that could have used a little tweaking in the lab before being put out. With its overbearing amount of club soda that seemed to diminish the rest of the basic lemon tea flavor, it was not worth its five dollars.
The Instamango was also on the basic side, being just a mango lemonade with butterfly flower pea at the top of the drink, making for a psychedelic color combination of a warm sun yellow at the bottom with a fade towards blood orange and royal purple at the top. But sadly, colors are only a portion of the recipe for a unique drink, and this lemonade is an Insta-fail.
Then came Jean Luc Picard’s all-time favorite “Tea, Earl Grey, hot,” albeit not hot and with the addition of activated charcoal along with its punny 50 shades of earl grey name. The tea quality of the earl grey is very good when ordered with half the sweetness, and the activated charcoal provides something along the lines of a detox for your insides, making for a clean drink that has plenty of flavor and uniqueness from the lab.
Overall, Labobatory is a must-try in the San Gabriel Valley when searching for a place that deviates from all the basic boba spots that line every corner from Pasadena to El Monte.