There aren’t a lot of boba shops in Santa Monica, but there’s a new one in town that’s worth stopping by if you happen to be in the area.
Right next to Santa Monica High School, Boba Lab opened its doors earlier this year to offer the surrounding and greater community nearly 30 quality-made teas and smoothies that’ll satisfy a boba craving and any boba curiosity.
If you’re not familiar with boba, it’s a beverage that is added with chewy tapioca balls. The base beverage is typically a milk tea or a fruity flavor. Boba is also referred to as bubble tea and pearl shakes.
I visited Boba Lab because I’m a huge boba fan and because my friend is related to the owners of the shop. When I learned about the new place, I was also excited to check it out because it’s kind of a novelty in the area: a lot of people there aren’t familiar with what boba is.
The concept of Boba Lab is pretty neat. It’s got a lab-looking (but not sterile-looking) interior. Employees wear white lab coats with the Boba Lab logo to convey a mad scientist in a cartoonish lab kind of feel. What’s also interesting is a jumbo-sized periodic table found on the wall.
I got to try a couple of beverages there, including: peach mango marble, strawberry marble with berry boba, chocolate marble and earl grey. They’re all really refreshing and satisfying. Deciding what to get, as always, depends on your preference, but I enjoyed the peach mango marble the most.
In addition to drinks, Boba Lab has a few food items available to snack on: a variety of waba dogs and waffilicious desserts. The plain waba dog is a hearty bite to eat, and the green tea waffilicious is a must-try! Menu items are carefully crafted by Lyn, the “chief mad scientist,” who Sean, one of the owners, describes is “tireless when it comes to perfecting recipes.”
Food options at the moment are on the limited side, but Sean says more are in the works.
Some of my favorite things about Boba Lab are how detail-oriented it is in providing quality to its customers and in its efforts to be environmentally conscious.
For its customers, Boba Lab does small things like use a reverse osmosis filter for the water that goes into its beverages both as a liquid and as ice. It also uses real tea leaves – rather than powder – for its drinks, and it uses agave as its sweetener! (Hooray for a healthier alternative to sugar!) Then there are customization options such as that to opt for almond, soy or regular milk; the option to request varying levels of sweetness; and the choice to add boba or lychee to the drink.
Another thing that’s really cool is that it offers a 10-cent discount per drink order for customers who use a tumbler. Tumblers can either be bought or obtained by joining the loyalty program. Through the program, after your second drink, you’ll receive a free medium-sized tumbler with your order.
As it continues business, Boba Lab is aiming to create new flavors every quarter as a way to stay true to the whole laboratory concept it conveys, trying to tinker with new things.
Boba Lab is located at:
711 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Parking can be challenging in this area, but here are your options:
- There are a few parking spots located on the right of the building where Boba Lab is found. Look for an alley that leads to some apartment buildings
- There is metered street parking along Lincoln Blvd near Pico Blvd. If you see the Shell gas station, you’re in the right area
- You can park near Santa Monica High School on 7th Street. This is a one-way street so you’ll need to enter through Olympic Blvd, which is north of and parallel to Pico. Parking is free for two hours but you can only parallel park on the left side.