Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more details.
This brown sugar milk tea (also called brown sugar bubble tea), is easy to make with just a few ingredients at home. Not only does this bubble tea taste delicious with its caramelized brown sugar syrup and chewy boba pearls, it looks amazing!
Making your own boba tea at home is easy, and inexpensive to do.
Looking for a vegan milk tea? This almond milk tea is perfect for you!
What Is Brown Sugar Bubble Tea?
Brown sugar bubble tea (and bubble tea in general) originated in Taiwan.
It has become increasingly popular in Canada, the UK and the US, with bubble tea stores in almost all major cities.
Most bubble tea recipes contain tea, as the name implies.
This brown sugar one is the exception. It is made without any tea– just boba pearls, brown sugar syrup and milk.
However some boba tea stores will add in a bit of black tea.
Brown sugar boba is most well known for its unique appearance.
The thick brown syrup sticks to the sides of the glass, creating stripes down the side of the glass. For this reason, you may also hear this type of bubble tea called tiger milk tea.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This brown sugar milk boba is also known as “tiger milk tea” for its classic, instagramable tiger striped look. Even though it looks fancy, it’s incredibly easy to make!
- This recipe requires only 3 ingredients (not counting water & ice), so it is one of the easiest bubble tea recipes to make at home.
- Making this recipe at home, rather than buying it at the bubble tea store is much less expensive and tastes just as good.
- This recipe is easily customizable to adjust to your preferred sweetness level, and can easily be made vegan and dairy-free.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is used to make the brown sugar syrup. This recipe will work with any type of brown sugar, but a dark brown sugar or muscovado sugar will give the richest, most caramel flavor.
- Milk: Whole milk will give the creamiest taste, but you can use any type of milk including a non dairy one. For a vegan alternative, use almond milk or oat milk.
- Tapioca Pearls: All bubble teas have to have boba! You can use store bought tapioca pearls or make your own. For store bought boba, choose quick cooking boba to save time, as this type only takes 5 minutes to cook. You should be able to find boba at your local Asian grocery store or online.
- Water: Water is used to make the brown sugar syrup. Use filtered or bottled water to prevent the infusion of any unpleasant flavors from tap water.
- Ice: A handful of ice keeps this bubble tea chilled the whole time you are sipping it.
Here is the equipment you will need:
- A small saucepan to cook the tapioca pearls in.
- A strainer to strain out the tapioca pearls.
- A small pan to make the brown sugar syrup in.
- A boba tumbler and bubble tea straw to drink the bubble tea.
Step By Step Instructions
Step 1: Heat the brown sugar and water on a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to heat for another 5 minutes until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Step 2: Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the syrup to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, just until it has slightly thickened up, then remove it from the stove. Set aside.
Step 3: Bring a small saucepan filled with water to a boil. Once boiling, add the tapioca pearls. Cook for the amount of time indicated on the package.
Step 4: Once cooked and chewy, strain out the tapioca pearls. Immediately mix them into the brown sugar syrup, coating them in the mixture.
Step 5: Add the boba and brown sugar to a glass, dripping the syrup down the sides. Add the ice and milk. Stir well before drinking.
Brown sugar boba tea is best consumed fresh.
However, if you do have leftovers, strain out the boba and discard them (they won't last more than a few hours). Store the leftover milk tea in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
To save time making this bubble tea, you can make a large batch of brown sugar syrup in advance.
To store the syrup, first let it fully cool to room temperature. Then store it in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 5 to 10 days.
- Don't over boil the brown sugar syrup. The brown sugar syrup will thicken up a lot as it cools. Boil it just for a minute or two so it is thick enough to stick to the walls of the bubble tea glass once served, but not so much that it turns into a sticky mess.
- Add the boba pearls to the syrup right away. Once the boba pearls are cooked and strained, mix them into the sugar syrup immediately. Otherwise, the boba will become dry and stick together in a large clump that is hard to separate.
- Mix well before drinking. Although this drink looks cool before being mixed, it tastes much better once all the ingredients are fully mixed together.
- Use a bubble tea straw. Regular sized straws aren't able to sip up boba. Use extra wide bubble tea straws instead.
- Adjust the sweetness. This is a sweet drink! To make the drink less sweet, add less brown sugar syrup, or add in ½ cup of concentrated black tea.
For a vegan version of this recipe, replace the cow's milk with oat milk.
No – all other bubble tea recipes do contain tea, but the original version of brown sugar milk tea doesn't. If you want, you can add in ½ cup of concentrated black tea.