This thick and sticky brown sugar syrup recipe is perfect for milk tea. Includes tips to get the perfect flavor and texture without causing the much-dreaded crystallization.

Brown sugar syrup is the main ingredient for many milk teas. It has a thick, syrupy texture and a rich, caramel-like flavor that adds depth and sweetness to your drinks. Besides using it in bubble tea drinks, you can use the syrup to sweeten your coffees or cocktails, dress it as a syrup for pancakes, or a topping for ice cream. My favorite is to soak boba pearls for a sweeter, chewier experience.

If this magical syrup sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. I’ve looked all over trying to figure out how to make it the way they do at the bubble tea shops. One day, I even drove 3 hours to Houston to interview the boba makers at Xing Fu Tang, a bubble tea shop famous for its brown sugar syrup. 

In short, brown sugar syrup is easy to make, but hard to perfect. 

In this post, I will walk you through the steps to make brown sugar syrup with the perfect texture and flavor.  We will pick out the best brown sugar to use and I’ll teach you how to prevent crystallization of the syrup. You’ll be stirring this delicious syrup into all your boba drinks in no time.

Brown Sugar Milk Tea

As of the time of writing (2023), the typical boba shop sells a cup of brown sugar milk tea boba for between $6-8.  If you are obsessed with this drink like me, I’ll show you how to make your own batch of brown sugar syrup for much less. 

brown sugar syrup recipe for milk tea

Types Of Brown Sugar For Brown Sugar Syrup

I’ve tried many different brown sugars for this recipe, even combining sugars to find the best flavor. I recommend starting with dark brown sugar, as this is the most popular flavor. If you have a favorite sugar, certainly try that first. The customization ability is limitless!

Dark Brown Sugar

This is the most commonly used type of brown sugar in milk tea recipes, as it has a stronger flavor and a higher molasses content than other brown sugars. It also gives the drink its signature brown color.

Muscovado Sugar

This type of brown sugar is unrefined and has an even strong, molasses flavor that is similar to dark brown sugar. It’s often used in Asian desserts and can be used in this recipe if you prefer a stronger, more complex flavor. It’s what we use for tiger boba tea.

Light Brown Sugar

This type of brown sugar has a milder flavor than dark brown sugar, with a lower molasses content. It can be used in place of dark brown sugar if you prefer a lighter flavor in your drink.

Turbinado Sugar

This type of brown sugar is less processed than other types of brown sugar, and has a light caramel flavor. It can be used if you prefer a more subtle sweetness in your drink.

Coconut Sugar

This type of brown sugar is made from the sap of coconut palm trees and has a similar flavor to brown sugar, with a slightly nutty taste. It’s a good alternative for those who are looking for a more natural sweetener.

Demerara Sugar 

This type of brown sugar is less processed than other types of brown sugar and has a crunchy texture. It has a similar flavor to turbinado sugar and can be used in place of light brown sugar if you prefer a more natural sweetness in your drink.

Brown Sugar Blends

Some brands sell pre-made blends of different types of brown sugar that can be used in this recipe. These blends can give your drink a more complex flavor, with different notes of sweetness and nuttiness.

Okinawa Sugar 

Okinawa sugar, or kokuto sugar, has a deep, rich roasted caramel flavor. This healthier sugar is made in Japan. I listed this last because it’s rare to find in the states, however it is commonly used in Japan. You can make delicious Okinawa milk tea with it.

You can find most of these ingredients at your local grocery store or online.

Making the Brown Sugar Syrup

Now that you have decided on your choice of brown sugar, let’s make your brown sugar syrup. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
brown sugar syrup recipe for milk tea ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add the sugar to a medium-sized saucepan and spread it out evenly. Pour the water and lime juice onto the sugar, but be sure to keep the rest of the lime juice by the side of the pot.
  2. Heat the mixture over medium heat. DO NOT stir the mixture at this stage to prevent crystallization.
  3. As the sugar begins to melt in the next 2-3 minutes, it will start to bubble. Once it’s bubbling, reduce the heat to low to avoid burning.
  4. Watch the sides of the pot to ensure the sugar doesn’t burn. If you notice any burning, use a damp heat-proof baking brush to brush off the burnt sugar.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for up to 5-10 minutes. This will ensure that the syrup is thick enough to create the “tiger stripes” effect. If you prefer a thinner syrup, you can simmer for a shorter amount of time. But avoid simmering for more than 5-10 minutes, as the syrup will become too thick to use.
  6. Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Once it’s cooled, store it in an airtight container. The syrup can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 weeks in a sterile, air-tight container. When you take it out to use again, The syrup should be thick, similar to molasses.

Tip: Never let the syrup boil or it will thicken too much and start to turn into caramel. It should be simmered gently on low heat. Learn more about crystallization below.

brown sugar syrup recipe for milk tea liquid not crystallized

How To Prevent Crystallization

If you tried other brown sugar syrup recipes, you may find that one of the challenges in making brown sugar syrup is preventing it from crystallizing. Crystallization occurs when the sugar molecules come out of the solution and form crystals, giving the syrup a grainy texture. Here are tips on how to prevent crystallization:

  • Use the right type of sugar: Use high-quality brown sugar that is free of impurities. Some types of brown sugar, such as muscovado sugar, are more prone to crystallization than others.
  • Add an acid: Adding an acid, such as lime juice or cream of tartar, to the sugar syrup can help prevent crystallization. The acid helps to break down the sugar molecules and keep them in solution.
  • Use a candy thermometer: Using a candy thermometer can help you monitor the temperature of the sugar syrup. Crystallization is more likely to occur if the syrup is heated to too high of a temperature or if it cools too quickly. Keep the syrup at a steady temperature to prevent crystallization.
  • Don’t stir the syrup: Avoid stirring the sugar syrup while it’s cooking, as this can cause sugar crystals to form. Instead, gently swirl the pan to mix the ingredients.
  • Store the syrup properly: Store the brown sugar syrup in an airtight container at room temperature. Crystallization can occur if the syrup is stored in the refrigerator or if it’s exposed to too much moisture.
brown sugar syrup recipe for milk tea preparation

Preparing the Brown Sugar Milk Tea Drinks

To make one serving of brown sugar milk tea, you will need:

Ingredients

  • ½ cup prepared milk tea of choice (see options below)
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar syrup
  • 1/4 cup of cooked tapioca pearls
  • Ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Start by brewing the tea according to package instructions. Once the tea is brewed, add the brown sugar syrup and stir until it’s dissolved.
  2. Next, fill a serving glass with ice cubes and pour in the tea mixture. Using a spoon, add the syrup to the walls of the glass so that it can drip down like tiger stripes. Add the cooked tapioca pearls, then fill the glass with cold milk and ice.
  3. Stir the drink well to combine all the flavors and textures. If you like your drink sweeter, feel free to add more brown sugar syrup.
brown sugar syrup recipe for milk tea pouring

Other Uses For Brown Sugar Syrup

While the classic brown sugar boba milk tea is a delicious treat on its own, there are several other drinks that you can add brown sugar syrup to.  Its viscosity and sweetness make it an excellent addition to popular bubble tea drinks like Hokkaido milk tea, oolong milk tea, and tiger boba.

Hokkaido Milk Tea: This version of brown sugar milk tea includes a special milk from Hokkaido, Japan for an even creamier texture. It’s named after the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido.

Taro Milk Tea: Taro is a starchy root vegetable that is commonly used in Asian desserts. In this variation of brown sugar boba milk tea, taro powder or mashed taro is added to the drink to give it a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.

Tiger Milk Tea: Tiger milk tea is a popular Taiwanese drink that features a layer of sweetened condensed milk on top of black tea. When mixed together, the drink resembles the stripes of a tiger. Adding brown sugar syrup and boba pearls to this drink takes it to the next level.

Fruit Tea: You can add your favorite fruit juice or fruit puree to the mix. Mango, strawberry, and peach are popular choices that pair well with the sweet and creamy flavors of the brown sugar syrup.

Earl Grey Milk Tea: If you’re a fan of earl grey tea, you can swap out the black tea in the original recipe for earl grey tea bags. The bergamot oil in earl grey tea gives the drink a slightly citrusy, floral note that pairs well with the caramelized flavor of the brown sugar syrup.

Try experimenting with different types of tea and ingredients to create your own unique version of brown sugar boba milk tea. The possibilities are endless!

The Best Brown Sugar Syrup Recipe For Milk Tea

No ratings yet
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 168

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions 

  • Add the sugar to a medium-sized saucepan and spread it out evenly. Pour the water and lime juice onto the sugar, but be sure to keep the rest of the lime juice by the side of the pot.
  • Heat the mixture over medium heat. DO NOT stir the mixture at this stage to prevent crystallization.
  • As the sugar begins to melt in the next 2-3 minutes, it will start to bubble. Once it’s bubbling, reduce the heat to low to avoid burning.
  • Watch the sides of the pot to ensure the sugar doesn’t burn. If you notice any burning, use a damp heat-proof baking brush to brush off the burnt sugar.
  • Let the mixture simmer for up to 5-10 minutes. This will ensure that the syrup is thick enough to create the “tiger stripes” effect. If you prefer a thinner syrup, you can simmer for a shorter amount of time. But avoid simmering for more than 5-10 minutes, as the syrup will become too thick to use.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Once it’s cooled, store it in an airtight container. The syrup can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 weeks in a sterile, air-tight container. When you take it out to use again, The syrup should be thick, similar to molasses.
Author: denthu
Calories: 168kcal
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: boba

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.004g | Saturated Fat: 0.001g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 0.01g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 0.1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Write A Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.