Brown Sugar Boba Tea
An irresistibly easy recipe for brown sugar bubble tea – a.k.a. tiger milk tea! A simple yet satisfying brown sugar milk tea served over chewy boba tapioca pearls, in a glass drizzled with sweet stripes of syrup. The perfect summer treat, made with only 4 ingredients! Learn how to make brown sugar boba tea at home, including a homemade brown sugar syrup recipe.
You may have seen brown sugar boba milk tea at your favorite boba shop, with those scrumptious “tiger stripes” of syrup streaked down the sides of the cup. Now, you can whip up tiger sugar boba in your own kitchen anytime! Deliciously sweet, fun to drink, simple to prepare, and vegan friendly – made with whatever dairy or nondairy milk you prefer.
See how to make brown sugar milk tea with black tea (optional), milk of choice, syrup, and (of course) boba pearls. Plus, how to make brown sugar syrup for boba using just brown sugar and water. Altogether, the whole process takes 40 minutes, with some additional time for the syrup and milk tea to chill. Such an easy recipe, you’ll be making brown sugar bubble tea all summer!
What is brown sugar boba?
Brown sugar boba tea is a popular flavor of bubble tea, served in a cup streaked with stripes of brown sugar syrup (a.k.a. caramel). Those sweet stripes—and because it was created at the Tiger Sugar shop in Taiwan—have earned it the names “tiger sugar boba” or “tiger milk tea.” (Note: brown sugar boba is also the name of a particular type of tapioca pearl that’s black in color because it’s made with brown sugar.)
What is brown sugar milk tea or tiger milk tea?
Traditionally, tiger milk tea is just cold milk and brown sugar syrup, served over tapioca pearls. Unlike most other milk teas, brown sugar milk tea actually doesn’t contain any “tea” at all! But, for this boba milk tea recipe, I decided to make a true “milk tea” by boiling milk and steeping black tea. This is totally optional, but I think it’s deliciously comforting!
What does brown sugar boba tea taste like?
Brown sugar bubble tea is a cool and creamy drink, with a sweet caramel flavor and chewy boba pearls in every sip. The brown sugar syrup is so satisfyingly sweet, you don’t need additional sweetener! Since I decided to make my brown sugar milk tea with chai tea, my homemade version also has a rich, spiced flavor to complement the sweetness. Best served chilled or iced for maximum refreshment.
Brown Sugar Bubble Tea Ingredients
- Brown Sugar Syrup. This is essential to the full tiger milk tea effect! Below you’ll see how to make brown sugar syrup for boba in about 5 minutes, using just brown sugar and water. Of course, you can also purchase a premade brown sugar syrup if preferred.
- Milk of Choice. Dairy or nondairy milk will work in this recipe—use whatever you like. I used almond milk and it turned out fantastic!
- Black Tea. This is an optional ingredient, but totally worth it! Boiling the milk first and steeping black tea will add a fragrant, comforting flavor and a bit of a caffeine boost. I used chai tea, but you can use whatever black tea you like. Of course, the traditional brown sugar milk tea doesn’t contain any tea at all, so feel free to skip this.
- Boba Tapioca Pearls. These are a must-have in any bubble tea recipe! I recommend using pre-made black tapioca pearls for convenience, which have a natural sweetness and are very easy to cook in just 3-5 minutes.
- Boba Cup & Straw. For the complete tiger sugar boba experience at home, invest in some boba cups and straws! I’ve used disposable cups in the past, but this time I found some glass boba cups with reusable boba straws that I’ll surely use again and again.
What is brown sugar boba made of vs. regular boba?
Remember, brown sugar boba is not only the name of a drink, but it’s also a type of tapioca pearls. “Regular” or clear boba pearls are made from tapioca starch, which comes from the cassava root, and they’re relatively tasteless. Brown sugar boba pearls (a.k.a. black sugar boba) are made from tapioca and brown sugar, which gives them a black color and sweeter taste. For this bubble tea recipe, use black boba pearls!
How do you make brown sugar boba syrup?
You can make a homemade brown sugar syrup for boba with only 2 ingredients, in about 5 minutes! Simply bring ½ cup water and 1 cup brown sugar to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir regularly! Once the syrup has thickened slightly, transfer to a jar to let it cool and thicken a bit more before using it. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a few weeks.
How to make brown sugar milk tea at home
To make brown sugar milk tea with some actual tea in it, simply boil milk of choice, remove from heat, and steep a black tea bag for 10-15 minutes. Then, chill in the fridge before serving. Or, if you want to keep things super simple (and stay true to the classic tiger milk tea recipe), you can skip this whole process and make your brown sugar boba tea with plain milk instead!
How to Make Brown Sugar Boba Tea
- First, make brown sugar syrup for boba. Simmer water and brown sugar for about 5 minutes, then allow to cool to room temperature before using.
- If desired, prepare brown sugar milk tea with black tea of choice. Steep tea bag in hot milk for 10-15 minutes, then chill before serving. Or, skip this step and just use plain, cold milk instead.
- Then, cook boba pearls according to package directions. (For my black tapioca pearls, I boil 3-5 minutes.)
- Finally, assemble brown sugar bubble tea in a boba cup. Add cooked tapioca pearls into cup, then drizzle brown sugar syrup to create the “tiger stripe” look. Pour milk tea over boba, serve with a boba straw, and enjoy!
Is brown sugar milk tea caffeinated?
Typically, no—traditional tiger milk tea is not caffeinated because it doesn’t contain any tea. But, if you choose to add black tea when making brown sugar milk tea at home, it will contain caffeine. An average cup of black tea has 47mg caffeine, but the exact amount depends on the type of black tea and how long it steeps. Personally, I used chai tea because I find its blend of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom so comforting!
See how to make brown sugar boba tea in my Boba Milk Tea 4 Ways video!
Other boba milk tea & summer drink recipes to try:
- Matcha Milk Tea with Boba
- Taro Milk Tea with Boba
- Strawberry Boba Tea
- How to Make Bubble Tea 5 Ways
- Homemade Lemonade with Simple Syrup
- Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade
Brown Sugar Boba Tea
Brown Sugar Syrup
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup water
Brown Sugar Bubble Tea
- 1½ cups milk of choice
- 1 bag chai tea or black tea of choice, (optional)
- ¼ cup boba tapioca pearls
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar syrup, (above)
- 1 boba tea cup + straw
Brown Sugar Syrup
- In a saucepan, bring water and brown sugar to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly.
- Once boiling, turn heat down to medium and simmer until mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a glass jar or cup and allow to cool to room temperature. It will thicken as it sits.
- Can be stored overnight in the fridge. (Yields ~1 cup brown sugar syrup.)
Brown Sugar Bubble Tea
- To make brown sugar milk tea, bring milk of choice to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat, add black tea bag, and steep 10-15 minutes.
- Remove tea bag and transfer milk tea to a glass container. Chill in the fridge 10-20 minutes before serving.
- Option: If you don’t want a true “milk tea,” you can skip the tea bag and this boiling process and just use plain milk of choice instead.
- Boil boba tapioca pearls for 3-5 minutes, according to package directions. (See my process below).
- To assemble drink, add ¼ cup cooked boba pearls into boba tea cup. Drizzle brown sugar syrup to coat inside edges of cup. (Or, pour syrup directly onto tapioca pearls / whisk with milk tea to sweeten.)
- Pour brown sugar milk tea over boba. Serve with a boba straw and enjoy!
- Yields 1 brown sugar boba tea drink.
Boba Tapioca Pearls
- Fill a deep pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add black tapioca pearls and stir lightly. (Cook ¼ cup boba for a single serving, or as many servings as you plan to enjoy within the next few hours.)
- When tapioca pearls float to surface, turn down heat to medium. Cover pot and cook 3-5 minutes, until desired consistency is reached.
- Use a slotted spoon to scoop and transfer boba to a bowl of cold water until ready to serve. (This will prevent them from sticking together.)