Labothery is a make your own bubble tea shop, the first of its kind in Toronto. A step-by-step process allows tea fanatics to select from fresh tea and milk tea bases with colourful flavour options like durian, raspberry, rose, blueberry, taro, lychee and many more.
The name has the French word for tea in the middle, hence it’s pronounced “la-bo-tay-ree.”
The store has distinct laboratory-themed branding with stainless steel and white walls throughout, tea ingredients presented in vials and syringes.
Staff even wear long white lab coats.
A helpful mural by Angela Chung explains the steps gone through in order to create custom bubble teas.
Decide whether you want a milk tea, fresh tea or slush base ($3.25), add additional syrup syringe or powder test tube flavourings for $1, then optionally add milks or toppings for 50 cents.
What the diagram doesn’t really explain is that for milk or fresh teas, you also choose a black, green or oolong tea base first, samovars behind the counter.
The place operates cafeteria style, customers choosing ingredients for their tea and placing them on trays they slide along steel rails. Once you’ve made all your selections, pay and the bubble tea “lab technicians” do the rest of the work for you.
One thing that should be noted is that although you’re technically allowed to combine any ingredients you desire, the techs express that some matches are not ideal.
They’re down to help you right from the beginning of your bubble tea journey though, assisting in accompaniments for an initial base flavour preference.
We go for a bold oolong base for one tea, layering rose and red grapefruit syrup syringes atop popping kiwi pearls. The pearls are sweet and the rose is floral, but bitterness from the oolong and grapefruit flavours balances that out.
Mango and peach make for a sweeter combination, with both popping yogurt pearls and tapioca.
While some might confuse the two, the popping pearls are flavourful and burst in your mouth almost instantly, while the tapioca is richer and way more chewy.
Rose and lychee syrup are blended with ice for a slush, with aloe vera, passion fruit jelly and passion fruit pearls on the bottom. It’s a very fruity mix with a lot of texture and more distinct layers than other drinks.
For a milk tea we go with classic Asian flavour combinations, sesame and matcha milk powders (blended with tea then shaken with ice) with red bean, tapioca and some soy milk ($1) and maple syrup (25 cents) for a creamy, sweet and savoury bubble tea.
The idea has potential for locations across Canada, though this is the initial one to open.