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Taiwan Brown Sugar Bubble Tea Recipe

Yuchi Chang shares interesting stories and recipes from East Asian cuisine. She's learning to be a chemical engineer in her kitchen.


New Classic Emerges

When bubble tea were firstly launched to beverage market in 1980s, the original recipe were simple - the sweet tapioca pearls and milk tea. There weren't many choices of pearls' flavor. In most cases, granulated sugar were directly added to increase the sweetness level of tapioca pearls.

In the past 30 years, there are more young generation joined and worked in Taiwan beverage industry. They started to innovate and improve the pearls' flavor. The latest trend in Taiwan is milk without tea, mixed with caramelized tapioca pearls. The bitterness in caramel and the burned smell create a delicate flavor that gives bubble tea a new definition. Although there are many varieties of bubble tea, this new classic flavor has won most Taiwanese heart.

Following I am going to show you how to make the new classic bubble tea at home.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

2 hours 30 min

2 hours 35 min

2 cups of bubble milk tea

Step 1: Cook The Tapioca Pearls

The general cook time depends on how moist tapioca pearls are. The drier the pearls, the longer it takes to cook. Taiwanese tend to score the pearls by how chewy they are. We use the letter "Q" to describe the food condition, which is equivalent to Italian "al dente." The key to reach to the perfect condition is to reserve enough time simmer the pearls.


  • 1/2 cup dry tapioca pearls
  • 8 cups water


  1. Boil water to 212° F, then add the tapioca pearls. Cook for 30 minutes over high heat.
  2. Turn to extremely low heat and cover your pan with a lid. Continue to simmer for 1 hour. Stir the tapioca pearls 3-4 times in between, so they won't stick to the bottom.

How to Tell If They Are Done

  • It tastes chewy.
  • It looks translucent, or there is little uncooked tapioca left on the center of the pearl.

Step 2: Season The Tapioca Pearls With Caramel and Brown Sugar

Natural tapioca pearls are beige color. It becomes translucent after boiled. Most food manufacturer would add pigment to color the pearls but it doesn't taste much flavor. Following I will show you how to season tapioca pearls with caramel and brown sugar.


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
Scroll to Continue


  1. First we use granulated sugar to make caramel. Mix water and granulated sugar. Place the pot over medium heat until water dissolve the sugar and turn clear.
  2. Remove the pot immediately when it turns brown. (Overly cook the caramel will result in bitter taste, which we don't want it. )
  3. Add brown sugar. Mix well. Cook for another 10-15 seconds.
  4. Pour the sugar mixture onto the tapioca balls. Mix well. Cover the pot with lid and simmer for 30-50 minutes.

Step 3: Secret Tip to Coat Amber Patterns on Cup Wall

One of the drink's appeal is the messy amber patterns. This is essentially the brown sugar syrup coated on cup walls. It is fun to create different patterns by either shake the cup, or use wide straw to stir the pearls on the bottom. The patterns slowly dissolve in milk after couple minutes. The aesthetic images attract people to photo and share on social medias. If this sounds interesting to you, follow below steps to create your unique patterns!


Wide straw / Jumbo smoothie straw


  • Milk / Soya milk (The standard is whole fat milk.)
  • Ice cubes


  1. Fill the cup with moderate amount of tapioca balls.
  2. Swirl the cup to let the syrup stay on cup wall (refer to above photo).
  3. Add ice cube, then milk.

How Much Do You Know About Bubble Tea?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. How long can tapioca pearls be kept before it start to age?
    • 1 hours
    • 2 hours
    • 4-5 hours
  2. In recent Asia's bubble craze, which of below food use tapioca pearls?
    • Pizza & ramen
    • Popsicle & pancake
    • Hot pot & Sushi
    • All of the above
  3. How many cups of bubble tea do Taiwanese drink a year?
    • 100 million cups
    • 1 billion cups
    • 10 billion cups
  4. What day is National Bubble Tea Day in the United States?
    • April 30th
    • May 30th
    • June 30th

Answer Key

  1. 4-5 hours
  2. All of the above
  3. 1 billion cups
  4. April 30th


Yuchi Chang (author) from Taiwan on October 23, 2020:

Hi Amy, Thank you! I am glad you like the recipe. Let me know if you need more additional information. I am going to write more about Taiwanese drinks and street food. Have fun in kitchen!

Amy on October 13, 2020:

Hi Yuchi! This sounds simple to make and yummy. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

James C Moore from Joliet, IL on July 15, 2020:

The recipe seems simple and delicious.

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