Brown Sugar Iced Milk with Boba Pearls

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

My favourite boba/bubble drink used to be Taro milk tea. In my uni days there weren’t many Taiwanese tea houses in Auckland and I considered these a treat, rather than for a weekly consumption. I remember purchasing big bags of the drink mix to make bubble teas for friends at a gathering. It was manic having to brew so much tea and the pot of tapioca pearls took forever to cook through.

Fast forward to 2014, J was 6 and had been introduced to these milk tea drinks, but prefers chocolate milk with rainbow jelly. She said tea wasn’t really her thing and much preferred chewing on flavoured jelly rather than a tasteless blob.

Then came the Brown Sugar Milk drink in 2018. These were nick named “dirty” as warm brown sugar syrup were drizzled around the insides of cups, and when mixed with cold milk, it created a streaky effect, hence “dirty” illusion. It was a relatively simple drink, pearls cooked till tender and then soaked in unrefined brown sugar syrup to give the pearls a caramel taste. The best thing was the fresh milk that was used in the drink, no tea at all and is the reason why J didn’t mind trying it at first. In fact she drank most of that first introductory cup of brown sugar milk and was reluctant to share the rest with me 😅

One problem I have with the current tea houses selling such drinks: there seems to be no uptake of reusable cups for boba drinks. I guess the marketing strategy relies on customers seeing the layered drinks and contents. It makes me crinch everytime I buy one. At least I bring my stainless steel straw now, (the surprised look on the staffs’ face when I refuse their straw and pull out my own though) but one day I will bring my glass bottle or jar to the tea house and see if they will sell a drink to me in those. For now, this recipe to make these at home will suffice.

It’s really important to point out here that the quality of your milk makes or breaks this liquid delight. Use your favourite one, with fat retained. We used the gold class milk from a Jersey breed, by Lewis Road Creamery, from Waikato, New Zealand.

If you can, choose milk that has no permeate, a by-product of milkprocessing, which waters down milk. Jersey milk is naturally higher in butterfat and milk solids, making it a creamier milk with a full bodied taste.
This was perfect for this recipe. (this post is not sponsored nor have I been gifted the product. We truly love the milk).

Have fun making! (feel free to double or triple the amount of sugar syrup – you can easily use it on ice cream and desserts.)

Ingredients (makes 3 glasses)

  • 1 cup tapioca pearls
  • 5 cups water, boiling
  • 1 cup Mascovado sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 600ml Lewis Road Creamery Jersey Milk
  • Ice cubes, optional


  1. In a small saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the tapioca pearls to cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  2. Cover with lid and turn off the heat, to keep it slowly cooking in the residual heat for another 40 minutes.
  3. While the pearls are cooking, place sugar and water in a separate pot. Bring to a slow simmer till thick and sticky, and turn off the heat. Pour about a third of this syrup into a small squeezy bottle. Reserve the rest in the pot.
  4. Once the pearls are cooked, strain them into the pot with the sugar syrup. Let it sit for 30 minutes before using.
  5. When ready, scoop the boba pearls into 3 glasses. With the glass on a tilt, rotate the glass so that the syrup from the pearls glide onto the sides of the glass. From about one cm from the top of the glass, squeeze a line of syrup from the bottle along the insides of the glasses, while rotating the glass.
  6. Pour cold milk over the warm boba pearls.
  7. Give the drink a good stir before drinking.

Brown sugar milk with boba pearls

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