Incredibly creamy and sweet tiger milk tea made with brown sugar and tapioca pearls. This bubble tea is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth, as it has just the right amount of sweetness. Easy to make and enjoy it in the comfort of your home!
At this point it’s probably no secret that I absolutely love all things milk tea. Milk tea is like a dessert in a cup that’s ideal to consume either hot or cold. And the best part? There are endless flavour combinations that are incredibly delicious!
If you’re new to Bubble Tea I suggest trying my Oolong Milk Tea first, as it’s quite light and not overly sweet. For a unique flavour definitely try the popular Taro Milk Tea made entirely from scratch. And if you want unique flavours all the way from Japan, try the authentic recipes for Hokkaido Milk Tea and Okinawa Milk Tea.
Tiger Milk Tea is one of the most decadent types of milk teas, as it has generous amounts of brown sugar syrup. Although much sweeter than other bubble teas, this boba tea is hands down one of the most popular choices.
Curious to see how Brown Sugar Milk Tea is made on the streets of Taiwan? Check out this cool video on Taiwanese Tiger Milk Tea.
What is Tiger Milk Tea?
Tiger Milk Tea is a type of sweet bubble tea drink made with sugar syrup, milk, and tapioca pearls. It was invented in Taiwan in 2017 by Tiger Sugar, and later became popular all across the globe. In Chinese it’s called 黑糖珍珠鮮奶, which means “black sugar pearl milk”.
Tiger milk tea is also known as brown sugar milk tea because it’s made with brown sugar syrup. So regardless of what name it has in bubble tea shops, you can expect a milky drink with lots of sugar syrup.
Tiger Bubble Tea is famous for its messy look with plenty of syrup. Brown sugar syrup is smeared on the inside of the cup, which makes it look like ‘tiger stripes’.
Despite its name, Tiger Bubble Tea does not actually contain any tea. It is simply made with milk and sugar syrup, so it does not contain any caffeine.
Tiger Milk Tea also contains tapioca pearls, which is a chewy topping made from tapioca starch.
What does it taste like?
Brown sugar milk tea tastes sweet, with a deep caramel flavour. Its taste comes exclusively from the brown sugar syrup that is used to make it.
Since this drink does not contain any tea, there are no distracting flavours. In my opinion, Tiger milk tea is a very pure drink because it only has one dominant flavour.
Tiger milk tea has a very rich and creamy texture, as it’s made with a whole milk base. Although various types of plant-based milk can also be used for a vegan alternative, authentic brown sugar milk tea uses cow’s milk.
Tiger Milk Tea vs Brown Sugar Milk Tea
Tiger Milk Tea and Brown Sugar Milk Tea are basically the same thing in terms of flavour. They are both made with milk, sugar syrup and tapioca pearls.
Tiger Milk Tea has a more distinct appearance than regular Brown Sugar Milk Tea. Sugar syrup is used to coat the inside of the glass, thus giving the drink its famous ‘tiger stripes’. Brown Sugar Bubble Tea doesn’t have any special decoration as the syrup is mixed into the milk.
Lastly, authentic Tiger Milk Tea contains fresh cream on top, which gives the drink a very silky texture. Brown Sugar Milk Tea typically does not contain cream.
Why this is the best Tiger Milk Tea recipe
- Authentic flavour: This Tiger Milk Tea recipe is based on the authentic Taiwanese method and it tastes very similar to the original drink.
- Incredibly decadent: Although all bubble teas are delicious, brown sugar milk tea is hands down the most decadent variety. It’s not only extremely silky and creamy, but it has sugar syrup for days!
- Easy to make: Apart from the tapioca pearls, most ingredients for this recipe can be found easily. Preparing the milk tea is very easy, and you’ll have delicious Tiger Milk Tea within 15-20 minutes from start to finish.
- Cheaper than buying in store: Depending on where you are in the world, this type of milk tea can cost anywhere between $4 to $8. Making your own will cost only a fraction of that.
- Looks unique: The tiger stripes on the glass make the drink look really spectacular once you pour in the milk. Make sure to assemble the drink right before drinking, so the sugar syrup doesn’t dissolve.
Apart from the tapioca pearls, all ingredients can be found in most kitchens. Let’s see what’s needed:
- Brown sugar – I recommend using dark brown sugar like muscovado. You can also use light brown sugar, but the caramel flavour won’t be as intense. Alternatively, add 1-2 teaspoons of molasses to brown sugar to give it a more intense flavour.
- Milk – Whole milk is best for the ultimate creamy milk tea.
- Cream – Essential for an authentic brown sugar milk tea. I like to add it on top, then mix everything together with the bubble tea straw.
- Tapioca pearls – You can use both store-bought and homemade tapioca pearls. I recommend using Wu Fu Yuan tapioca pearls. They are made with black sugar and are perfect for this drink.
- Water – needed to cook the tapioca pearls.
How to make Tiger Milk Tea
- Start by preparing the sugar syrup. Mix the brown sugar and water in a pot and cook over medium heat until it starts bubbling.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook until thick and sticky in consistency.
- Separately, cook the tapioca pearls as indicated on the pack. Drain, then mix the cooked pearls into the sugar syrup.
- Cook on very low heat for a few minutes, so the tapioca pearls can soak up the sweetness.
Once the tapioca pearls and sugar syrup are ready, cover the pot and set aside to cool down for a few minutes.
Before we begin assembling the tiger milk tea, prepared the cream by whipping it to make it frothy.
- Hold the cup at a 45° angle. Use a spoon to drop a few tapioca pearls and sugar syrup on the cup walls. Take your milk tea is supposed to look messy so you can go crazy with this stage.
- Add as much tapioca pearls and sugar syrup as desired.
- Place a few ice cubes in the glass, then pour cold milk on top.
- Top with whipped fresh cream for an extra creamy drink. Serve immediately with a bubble tea straw.
Success Tips & Tricks
- Sticky sugar syrup – the secret to a successful Tiger Milk Tea is brown sugar syrup. It needs to be on the thicker side and have a slightly sticky consistency. Take your time cooking down the sugar syrup until it reaches the right viscosity. Also, do not let it boil as this can make it too thick.
- Perfectly cooked pearls – Tapioca pearls are meant to be chewy, but not too hard. Make sure you cook them as indicated on the pack and serve them immediately. Leaving boba for too long can make it go too hard and unpleasant.
- Customise sweetness – Brown sugar milk tea can be quite sweet, so make sure you don’t overdo it with the sweetness. It’s better to add more syrup later than have an overly sweet bubble tea.
- Full fat milk – Tiger Bubble Tea is supposed to be creamy and decadent. So don’t hold back on full fat milk. The higher the fat content the better!
- Don’t skip the cream – Brown sugar milk tea needs to be silky and creamy, so fresh cream is an absolute must.
- Ice cold ingredients – Use a few ice cubes to keep the brown sugar milk tea ice cold and refreshing.
- Bubble tea straws – Boba straws are an absolute must for all bubble tea recipes. I recommend using glass bubble tea straws because they’re fully reusable.
- Enjoy fresh – The ‘tiger stripes’ sugar syrup tends to dissolve very quickly once you add the milk. That’s why I recommend assembling the drink immediately before you’re ready to consume it.
How to store
Brown Sugar Milk Tea is best served fresh, immediately after making. The sugar syrup ‘tiger stripes’ also disappear very quickly, so I recommend assembling the bubble tea a few minutes before consuming.
The only item you can make ahead is the sugar syrup. Once cooked, store it in a jar at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge for 1 week. Reheat again before adding the cooked tapioca pearls to it.
Tapioca pearls need to be consumed within a maximum of 2 hours of cooking them for the ideal texture.
Frequently asked questions
Tiger Milk Tea does not contain any caffeine as it’s made only with milk and sugar syrup. Despite its name, no actual tea is used so there is zero caffeine.
Yes, simply substitute whole milk and cream with a plant-based alternative. I recommend a plant milk that’s relatively flavourless and unsweetened, so it does not take away from the caramel flavour. You could try either unsweetened oat milk or cashew nut milk.
Tiger Milk Tea is typically around 600-800 Kcal. This can vary greatly according to how much sugar syrup is used. This recipe contains 598 Kcal per serving, which is at the lower end for calories.
I wouldn’t exactly call Tiger Bubble Tea healthy, as it contains a lot of sugar. Since it’s made only with sugar syrup and full fat milk, it’s higher in calories and fats than most bubble teas. However, it’s definitely worth enjoying every once in a while.
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Tiger Milk Tea - Brown Sugar Bubble Tea Recipe
Brown Sugar Syrup
- ½ cup muscovado sugar * (100 grams)
- 2 tablespoons water (30 grams)
- ½ cup brown sugar tapioca pearls (100 grams)
- 2 ½ cups water (600 grams)
- 2 ½ cups milk, full fat (600 grams)
- ½ cup heavy cream (100 grams)
- 4-6 ice cubes
Brown Sugar Syrup
- Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to boil on medium heat.
- Once bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the syrup looks thicker and sticky.
- Cook the pearls as indicated on the pack.
- Drain and discard the water. Pour the cooked tapioca pearls into the sugar syrup and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Cover pot and set aside to cool down for 20 minutes.
Assembling the milk tea
- Whip up some cream until frothy. Set aside for now.
- Tilt the serving glass at a 45 degrees angle, then using a small ladle drip the tapioca pearls into the cup. Rotate the glass as the tapioca pearls start dripping towards the bottom. It’s okay to be messy on this step! Use as much tapioca as desired.
- Add ice cubes over the tapioca pearls. Pour milk over the ice, about 1 inch from the brim of the glass.
- Pour frothy cream over the milk to make the drink extra creamy. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- Muscovado sugar can be replaced with dark brown sugar.
- Sweetness can be adjusted according to personal preference.
- Nutritional value is estimative and is calculated per serving (this recipe makes 2 large servings) with tapioca pearls and 2 tablespoons of sugar syrup.
- Use boba pearls immediately after cooking them.
Although the streaks disappear very quickly, the drink was delicious!
Worth the calories, probably one of my favourite milk teas! Will give it a go with hazelnut milk next time as I think the nuttiness will go well with the brown sugar
Christina Mcclain says
I love this recipe but I'm having problems cooking the boba pearls. I tried following directions but they still turned out hard. They were soft at first until I rinsed them with cold water. Am I doing something wrong? Me and my son are boba tea fanatics
Hi Christina, sorry to hear that! What type of tapioca pearls are you using? Make sure to follow the instructions on the package, as sometimes cooking times can vary from one brand to the next. I recommend using Wu Fu Yuan 5 minute tapioca pearls, as they always come out really chewy and soft.
Anna B says
I think I added too much syrup on the first bubble tea, as it was kind of sweet. Then I made a second one with less syrup and it was perfection!
Hanelore Dumitrache says
Hi Anna, yes definitely too much syrup will make the drink overly sweet. I always test it out before making the final drink to see how much sugar I enjoy. And also this way I have extra excuses to drink two bubble teas!