Bubble Tea Recipe (Brown Sugar Milk)

Bubble tea (brown sugar milk recipe) in two soda fountain glasses with straws

The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

Prep: 1 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 16 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 drink
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1208 Calories
5g Fat
281g Carbs
9g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 1208
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 20mg 7%
Sodium 118mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 281g 102%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 32g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 352mg 27%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 374mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There are many flavorings for boba or bubble tea, but brown sugar milk is an all-time favorite. Originating in Taiwan, boba is a refreshing sweet tea beverage with dairy and chewy tapioca pearls, whose flavors range from coconut and taro to fruit-forward ones infused with passionfruit or peach. Curiously, the brown sugar milk comes with a twist—there's no actual tea in it, so it's suitable for kids or people who can't have caffeinated beverages, as tea has caffeine in it.


Click Play to See This Brown Sugar Milk Recipe Come Together

Other types of bubble tea are indeed made with tea and use oolong, green, or black tea as a base. Popular brown sugar milk has none, and true to its name is a blend of milk, bubbles (aka tapioca pearls), and a boiled brown sugar syrup that's extremely easy to make at home by cooking two parts of dark brown sugar with one part of water until it thickens.

While the classic version of brown sugar milk doesn't have any tea, many shops include it, and you can do so at home by mixing your favorite homemade milk tea with the syrup. Brown sugar milk tea is very sweet and delicious and has become extremely popular all over the world.


  • 1 (8.8-ounce) package dried tapioca pearls

For the Brown Sugar Syrup:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

  • 1/2 cup water

For the Drink:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar syrup, plus more for the glass

  • 1/4 cup cooked tapioca pearls

  • 1 cup milk

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this drink is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Cook the Tapioca Pearls

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Dried tapioca pearls in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

  2. Cook the tapioca pearls according to the package instructions. Reserve.

    Tapioca pearls in a white bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

Make the Brown Sugar Syrup

  1. Gather the ingredients to prepare the syrup.

    Ingredients gathered for brown sugar syrup

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

  2. In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar and water over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let it bubble until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

    Brown sugar and water combined in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

  3. Transfer the syrup to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. The brown sugar syrup can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge overnight.

    Brown sugar syrup cooling in bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

Assemble the Drink

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients gathered to assemble brown sugar milk bubble tea

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

  2. Pour half of the brown sugar syrup into a squeeze bottle and use it to line the sides of a milkshake glass with "stripes."

    Brown sugar syrup in a plastic squeeze bottle and painted on the sides of a glass

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

  3. Spoon in the cooked tapioca pearls.

    Cooked tapioca pearls in glass streaked with brown sugar syrup

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

  4. In a cocktail shaker, combine the milk and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar syrup. Add more or less depending on your preference. Fill with ice and shake well until it's nice and frothy.

    Milk and syrup combined together in copper-colored cocktail shaker

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

  5. Strain the chilled brown sugar milk into the syrup-lined glass.

    Brown sugar milk added to the milkshake glass with tapioca pearls

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

  6. Serve with a bubble tea or smoothie straw and enjoy.

    Brown sugar milk (bubble tea) in a glass with a copper straw

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

What is tapioca, and what are tapioca pearls?

  • Tapioca is a gluten-free starch extracted from the cassava root (also known as yuca). It is used as a thickening agent and is very common in vegan cooking and baking. Available in flour, pearls, and flakes, tapioca is found in most Asian supermarkets and online specialized retailers.
  • You can make tapioca pearls from scratch by making a dough with tapioca flour, water, and sugar and then cooking them on the stove, but it's easier and faster to buy the premade pearls. They are also used as a thickening agent and for added texture in puddings and beverages. When cooked without any flavoring, they're very bland. Fruit and sugar are added when cooking the pearls to lift up their natural blandness. These dehydrated marble-sized "bubbles" will soften when boiled and should be used within a few hours of cooking since they will harden and stick together if kept out for too long.