After more than a year of waiting, Taiwanese chain Tiger Sugar has arrived in Arizona, bringing dessert drinks, boba tea, brewed tea and its famous amber striped drinks.
With more than two dozen locations across the United States, Tiger Sugar has built a reputation in the competitive boba tea industry with its dark sugar syrup infused beverages, which are now served at Mesa on Dobson Road and First Street. (For people who want to do their Asian shopping while in the area, the store is just a block north of the Mekong Supermarket and H Mart.)
With over 20 items on the menu, it can be hard to decide which drink to try. Options range from milky to fruity, with a variety of toppings to add texture to your matcha, coffee or tea latte. So we’ve put together a guide with descriptions of what to expect from a selection of Tiger Sugar’s best drinks.
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What is Tiger Sugar?
Born in Taichung, Taiwan, Tiger Sugar has become a fan-favorite boba tea chain in recent years, thanks in part to its Instagrammable drinks with black sugar “tiger stripes” dripping inside their cups. .
According to the chain’s website, baristas cook tapioca pearls in syrup for eight hours before serving. Rather than cream, stores use fresh milk in drinks.
Tiger Sugar’s success has allowed it to expand with black sugar bubble tea-inspired products such as popcorn and ice cream bars, which can be found in select grocery stores, like neighboring H Mart.
What’s on the menu Tiger Sugar
Tiger Sugar’s signature drink is the dark sugar boba + pearl milk with cream mousse.
Drinks come in a variety of flavors including taro, matcha, chocolate malt, and coffee.
All drinks can also be customized with toppings such as boba, pearls (small balls of tapioca), cheese and cream mousse, tiger jelly and sago.
The store menu varies slightly by location in the United States. Here are the drinks you can order at the Mesa location:
Black sugar milk series:
- Boba with black sugar + pearl milk with cream mousse.
- Boba of black sugar + pearl + tiger jelly milk with cream mousse.
- Boba of dark sugar + pearl + chocolate malt milk with cream mousse.
- Boba with black sugar + pudding milk with cream mousse.
- Taro, black sugar milk boba taro pudding with cream mousse.
- Black sugar boba + pearl milk coffee with cream mousse.
- Black sugar mochi bobo with cream mousse.
- Matcha dark sugar boba milk with cream mousse.
- Golden oolong tea with cheese mousse.
- Vanilla flavored black tea with cheese mousse.
- Black sugar boba black tea latte with cream mousse.
- Black sugar boba green tea latte with cream mousse.
- Vanilla flavored black tea latte with mochi bobo.
- Golden oolong tea with boba.
- Vanilla flavored black tea with boba.
- Black sugar boba tea.
- Boba green tea with black sugar.
- Black tea lemon black sugar.
Be aware when ordering drinks that they are rather sweet by default; you can ask for less sweetness. If you want your drink caffeinated, read the names carefully to make sure your choice contains tea (or coffee); “Pearl milk” and “milk pudding” drinks, for example, do not contain tea.
Pro Tip: The Tiger Sugar website recommends shaking a boba drink 15 times before sticking your straw in it to get the most out of the dark sugar-infused pearls.
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Black sugar boba black tea latte with cream mousse
The black tea latte with cream mousse and black sugar boba, also known as T5 on the menu, has bouncy, fluffy tapioca balls with a barely noticeable tea flavor.
The milk tea was still quite sweet at 75% sweetness, so for those sensitive to sugary drinks, I might go as low as zero sweetness, if possible, so the dark sugar boba could stand out more. The taste of black tea is noticeable at this level of sweetness, which can be good if you’re looking for a caffeine boost without the bitter taste of tea.
Chocolate malt milk with tiger jelly
I customized menu #3 (dark sugar boba + pearl + chocolate malt milk with cream mousse) to see if I could get a mocha-like drink with the chocolate milk and tiger jelly at the coffee shop. (The menu item that comes with the coffee jelly is the black sugar boba + pearl + tiger jelly milk with cream mousse).
The concept of chocolate and coffee as complementary flavors isn’t revolutionary, but I was pleasantly surprised by the result. Chocolate does indeed have a strong malt flavor, so beware that even without the added sweetness of the toppings, it’s a very sweet dessert drink.
Tiger jelly is not very dense and has an almost crunchy consistency.
Black sugar bobo mochi with cream mousse
The black sugar mochi bobo with cream mousse (#6 on the menu) was much less sweet than I expected based on Tiger Sugar’s other drinks.
For those who might misinterpret the name (like me), boba is the same as other drinks; the mochi is mixed into the drink as a soft texture complementary to the milk-based drink. However, the pillow addition tastes more like creme brulee than Japanese mochi (rice cakes).
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Golden pearl oolong tea
For customers who want to keep their beverages simple, rather than a sugary treat, Tiger Sugar has prepared black, oolong, and green tea beverages.
Golden oolong tea has the slightly bitter aftertaste that regular tea drinkers would expect, and at 75% sweetness, the sugar level is more subtle than some of the other more dessert drinks in the store at this level. Just be aware that any added toppings will likely make the drink sweeter.
I replaced the boba with pearls, which are tapioca balls that are about half the size of black sugar boba, and enjoyed the texture it added to the iced tea.
Details: Tiger Sugar, 67 N. Dobson Road, Suite 110, Mesa. $4.59 to $8 plus tax. 480-572-1643 tigersugar.co, en.tigersugar.com.
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