This thick and sticky brown sugar syrup for boba or milk tea has the best caramel flavor and is made with only 2 basic ingredients. This recipe can be used as the rich syrup in tiger milk tea or to coat cooked tapioca pearls. The syrup only takes a couple of minutes to prepare and adds a rich, sweet flavor to drinks or desserts.
Why you’ll love this brown sugar syrup recipe
- delicious brown sugar syrup: a homemade sweet and sticky brown sugar syrup that will coat each tapioca pearl
- creates tiger stripes for milk tea: the thick syrup clings to the side of the glass, creating the perfect effect for Tiger Milk Tea.
- minutes to prepare: this recipe is fast and includes easy steps plus troubleshooting tips and tricks
- video tutorial: this recipe includes a video and step by step photos for those who are visual learners!
What is Tiger Milk bubble tea?
Tiger milk tea is a popular bubble tea flavor known for its characteristic ‘tiger stripes’ made from a brown sugar syrup on the side of the glass. This milk tea uses syrup made from dark brown muscovado sugar or brown sugar.
Tiger milk tea can also be called:
- Brown Sugar Bubble Tea
- Tiger Boba Tea
- Black Sugar Bubble Tea
- Tiger Sugar Milk Tea
Bubble tea, or boba milk tea, is a Taiwanese drink that consists of tea, sometimes milk, along with soft yet chewy tapioca balls. These drinks have many variations, from different toppings to different tea types. They can even be blended to create a milkshake or smoothie consistency.
Milk Tea and Bubble Tea
- Milk tea refers to a drink with milk combined with tea. Boba and toppings aren’t always incorporated.
- Boba tea and bubble tea often refer to the same thing. Bubble tea often has milk but it also has chewy tapioca balls or jelly added to it.
This recipe uses simple ingredients (only 2 including water) for the sticky brown sugar syrup. I’ve also included ingredients for a classic brown sugar boba tea, as well!
For the syrup:
- Dark or Light Brown Sugar
- Filtered Water
For a classic brown sugar boba milk tea or tiger milk tea:
- Black Tapioca Pearls: for the chewy boba pearls
- Milk of Choice: I like oat milk to keep the bubble tea dairy free (it’s closest to whole milk in texture)
- Black Tea: like oolong or earl grey (looseleaf or tea bags)
Types of brown sugar used for boba tea
The type of sugar used in the syrup has a huge effect on the taste of the boba or the milk tea you’re adding it to. Below are some common types of sugars that can be exchanged for brown sugar in this recipe.
- Taiwanese Brown Sugar
- Japanese Black Sugar
- Turbinado Sugar
- Muscovado Sugar
- Muscovado Sugar or Molasses: for a richer, almost toffee like flavor
- Cinnamon Stick: add a whole cinnamon stick when simmering the syrup to infuse it
- Vanilla: a ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract will add another layer of delicious flavor
- Fruit Zest: orange zest would be delicious in this syrup
- Pumpkin Puree: pumpkin plus cinnamon is delicious added to this recipe. My Pumpkin Spice Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso Recipe is a good example of how to do this!
- Small saucepan or pot: to make the brown sugar syrup and to cook the boba
- Candy Thermometer: this is optional, and I personally don’t think it’s necessary. If you keep an eye on the syrup and keep it on low heat, this recipe turns out perfect without a thermometer!
*Video tutorial for making the boba is above the recipe card down below!*
to make the brown sugar syrup
STEP 1: Add the brown sugar and water to a small pot or saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and whisk occasionally.
STEP 2: Simmer the mixture for 5-7 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Keep an eye on the syrup during the cooking process. The syrup should thicken to a consistency slightly looser than honey. If using a thermometer, the temperature should be between 215°F – 234°F /101°C–112°C.
📌 IMPORTANT TIP: You never want the syrup to boil or it will thicken too much and start to turn into caramel. It should simmer gently on low heat.
STEP 3: Remove from the heat, pour into a heat-proof bowl or glass and set aside until the tapioca pearls are cooked (if making boba). The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.
to make the homemade boba
STEP 1: Bring water to a boil over medium heat.
STEP 2: Add the tapioca pearls and cook covered for 3 minutes. Then turn off the heat and cook them in the hot water for another 3 minutes. (I recommend also checking your tapioca pearls’ package for its specific instructions).
STEP 3: Strain the cooked tapioca balls. Add the cooked boba to the brown sugar syrup. Stir them around to coat…and you have your brown sugar boba pearls!
📌 TIP: to bring the boba to room temperature faster (so they don’t melt the ice in your milk tea), place the heatproof glass in cold water or an ice bath for 2-3 minutes. Be sure to use a heatproof container, or metal bowl, since glass could crack.
How to Serve the Milk Tea
STEP 1: Combine 1 cup of milk and a 1/4 cup of tea. You can also blend in ice to create a frappe texture.
STEP 2: Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of prepared brown sugar boba in the bottom of a glass. You can also spoon the syrup on the sides of the glass to create tiger-like-stripes.
STEP 3: Top the boba with a handful of ice. Add as much or as little ice as you’d like.
STEP 4: Pour the milk tea on top. Serve with a large bubble tea straw.
📌 TIP: add as much or as little syrup as you’d like to reach your desired sweetness.
Simple syrup vs. brown sugar syrup for boba
You may be wondering what the difference is between this brown sugar syrup and other brown sugar simple syrup recipes.
- This syrup is thicker and stickier, perfect for clinging to the sides of a milk tea glass.
- This brown sugar syrup for boba has a 2:1 sugar-to-water ratio, whereas a standard simple syrup has a 1:1 ratio, meaning you add equal parts sugar and water to make the syrup.
To store leftovers, refrigerate the syrup (without any boba) in an airtight container or jar for 2-3 weeks. If stored properly, the syrup can last a pretty long time in the fridge. For the best results:
- Clean and sterilize the jar
- Tightly close the lid
If you’re using this syrup for boba keep in mind that tapioca pearls are best served fresh. The brown sugar boba should be consumed within 1-2 hours. If the tapioca pearls sit in the syrup too long, they will become too soft.
NOTE: If the boba pearls are left in the cold milk tea for too long, they’ll firm up and become too chewy.
- Let the syrup cool completely at room temperature: this will help prevent crystallization. The syrup should be at room temperature before transferring to the fridge for storage.
- Don’t let the syrup boil: if the syrup boils, it will thicken too much and become a caramel consistency.
- Keep an eye on the syrup: simmer over low heat until you reach the right consistency and make sure to stay by the pot as it cooks.
- The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools: keep in mind that the syrup will thicken up more as it cools down.
There are two simple solutions to thicken the syrup: cook it for longer or add more sugar. If your syrup is slightly runny, I recommend cooking it for another 1-3 minutes. If it looks like the syrup is very runny, the water or sugar may have been measured incorrectly, so adding more sugar would be the best solution. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time until the syrup thickens to the consistency you desire.
I don’t recommend using white granulated sugar for this recipe. The syrup gets its dark, caramel taste from the molasses content in the brown sugar.
Tiger Milk Tea and Brown Sugar Milk Tea often refer to the same drink. Depending on the Bubble Tea shop you are buying the drink from, different sugars may be used. Tiger Milk Tea sometimes uses Muscovado Sugar in the syrup, whereas Brown Sugar Milk tea often uses brown sugar.
Looking for more Bubble Tea Drinks?
Did you make this brown sugar syrup for boba?
I’d love to know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below!
Brown Sugar Syrup for Boba & Milk Tea
This thick and gooey brown sugar syrup for boba or milk tea has the best caramel flavor and is made with only 2 basic ingredients. This recipe can be used as the sticky syrup in tiger milk tea or to coat cooked tapioca pearls.
It only takes a couple of minutes to prepare and adds a rich, sweet flavor to drinks or desserts.
Brown Sugar Syrup: (4-6 servings)
- ½ cup (100g) dark or light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup filtered water
- 1 cup quick cooking black tapioca pearls
To Make the Brown Sugar Syrup
- Add the brown sugar and water to a small pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat and whisk to combine.
- Simmer the mixture for 5-7 minutes, whisking occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Keep an eye on the syrup during the cooking process. Important Tip: You never want the syrup to boil or it will thicken too much and start to turn into caramel. It should simmer gently on low heat.
- The syrup should thicken to a consistency slightly looser than honey. If using a thermometer, the temperature should be between 215°F – 234°F /101°C–112°C.
- Remove from the heat, pour into a heat-proof bowl or glass and set aside until the tapioca pearls are cooked (if making boba). The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.
To Make the Homemade Boba
- Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the tapioca pearls and cook covered for 3 minutes. Then, turn off the heat, and remove the pot from the burner and cook for another 2-3 minutes. (I recommend checking the instructions on the package for your specific tapioca pearl).
- Strain the cooked tapioca. Add the cooked boba to the brown sugar syrup.
- Stir them around to coat...and you have your brown sugar boba pearls!
- Let the syrup cool completely at room temperature: this will help to prevent crystallization. The syrup should be at room temperature before transferring to the fridge for storage.
- To store leftovers: refrigerate the syrup (without any boba) in an airtight container or jar for 2-3 weeks. If stored properly, the syrup can last a pretty long time in the fridge.
- Don’t let the syrup boil: if the syrup boils, it will thicken too much and become a caramel consistency.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 91Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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