How I Ended up Having a Boba Drink Named by Me

August 6 2017, 12:50am

Recently, Labobatory added Pixel Tea to their drink menu. This marks the first time I've had a hand in naming a menu item.

Look Ma. I named a drink!

The story of how I eventually got to name this drink goes back to my time at Cal.


During college, I enjoyed picking up milk tea from Quickly before going to house parties I was invited to. Many of these parties were BYOB, so bringing milk tea wasn't out of the ordinary. One day, I made the discovery that by drinking approximately 1/4th of the tea and filling it back up with vodka, one got a drink that tasted nearly like milk tea still with the added vodka effects.

I thought alcoholic boba was a thing in my past until one of my best friends shared with me an article about a boba shop in Downtown Los Angeles, called Boba 7, offering just this. The fact that this shop was themed to be a speakeasy made me want to experience the location even more.

One day, this friend and I went to the shop to discover a Thai restaurant. Confused, we inquired and eventually found the drink shop, Boba 7, located in the back of the restaurant in what looked more like a deli than any boba shop I had been to.

It was probably slightly before dinner when we arrived. There was only a small table of three others quietly chatting when we got to the shop. It pretty much remained that way for the duration of our stay.

Green Tea Heineken

Photo by Foodbeast

After asking for recommendations, I settled on a Green Tea Heineken. This drink utilized sweetened green tea to numb the traditional bite of of the beer. Admittedly, I didn't have very high expectations for the drink but it was surprisingly good and well put together.

Sitting across from the cash register, and the owner of Boba 7, we got to chatting about the location, boba, business, magic, and Pokemon.

The downtime provided the perfect opportunity to have a conversation. I came in as just any customer and left with a new friends (as well as a greater understanding of the professional Pokemon TCG culture that exists—talk about intense).

Since then, I've introduced many of my closest friends to Elton and Boba 7.

After moving to SF, the frequency of visits understandably decreased. I continued keeping tabs though on what Elton was up to, as many do with their friends on Facebook. It was here that, one day, I learned that he was launching his own boba shop via Kickstarter.

Without hesitation, I wanted to support him as much as I could. Consequently, this level of support allowed me to name a drink.

Elton's campaign successfully funded and around two months later, Labobatory opened in San Gabriel.


In retrospect, if that connection was never made (with help from visiting during an off-time), I probably never would have felt compelled to support Elton's campaign. It's through knowing more of who he is, his drive, and what he wants to do that made supporting him a no brainer.

I encourage anyone who wants to develop new connections with business owners to visit during off-peak times.

Pixel Tea

My drink, by the way, is inspired by my travels to Taiwan as well as my love of tech, design, gaming, and experiences. Pixel Tea is a visual and edible adventure that I hope you'll give a try.

If you're ever in the area, drop by the shop and tell Elton that Kevin says hi. Also, although his San Gabriel shop doesn't have an alcohol license, you can still, if you're interested in trying alcoholic boba, follow the Labobatory Facebook page. He posts events for alcoholic boba nights that he does at a downtown LA bar complete with music and magic.

What connections have you made as a result of visiting a business?