Tiger Sugar has arrived in Arizona. Here's why it's so famous and what you should order
After more than a year of anticipation, 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 U.S., Tiger Sugar has built a reputation in the competitive boba tea industry with its black sugar syrup-infused drinks, which are now being served in Mesa on Dobson Road and First Street. (For people who want to shop for Asian groceries while they’re in the area, the store is only one block north of Mekong Supermarket and H Mart.)
With over 20 items on the menu, it can be difficult 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 emerged in the last few years as a fan-favorite boba tea chain in part due to its Instagrammable drinks with black sugar “tiger stripes” dripping down the inside of their cups.
According to the chain’s website, baristas cook tapioca pearls in syrup for eight hours before serving. Rather than creamer, the stores use fresh milk in the 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 Tiger Sugar menu
Tiger Sugar’s signature drink is the black sugar boba + pearl milk with cream mousse.
Drinks come in variety of flavors including taro, matcha, chocolate malt and coffee.
All drinks can also be customized with toppings such as boba, pearls (smaller tapioca balls), cheese and cream mousse, tiger jelly and sago.
The store’s menu varies slightly across U.S. locations. These are the drinks you can order at the Mesa location:
Black sugar milk series:
Black sugar boba + pearl milk with cream mousse.
Black sugar boba + pearl + tiger jelly milk with cream mousse.
Black sugar boba + pearl + chocolate malt milk with cream mousse.
Black sugar boba + pudding milk with cream mousse.
Taro, taro pudding black sugar boba milk with cream mousse.
Black sugar boba + pearl coffee latte with cream mousse.
Black sugar mochi bobo with cream mousse.
Matcha black sugar boba milk with cream mousse.
Tiger mango sago.
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 black tea.
Black sugar boba green tea.
Black sugar lemon black tea.
Be aware when ordering drinks that they come quite sweet by default; you can ask for less sweetness. If you want your drink to come caffeinated, read the names carefully to make sure your choice contains tea (or coffee); “pearl milk” and “pudding milk” drinks, for example, don't contain tea.
Pro-tip: Tiger Sugar's website recommends shaking a boba drink 15 times before sticking your straw in to get the most of the black sugar-infused pearls.
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 and chewy tapioca balls with a barely noticeable tea flavor.
The tea latte 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 that the black sugar boba can stand out more. The taste of the black tea is noticeable at this sweetness level — which might be good if you’re looking for a caffeine boost without the bitter taste of tea.
Chocolate malt milk with tiger jelly
I customized #3 on the menu (black sugar boba + pearl + chocolate malt milk with cream mousse) to see whether I could achieve a mocha-like drink with the chocolate milk and coffee-flavored tiger jelly. (The menu item that comes with coffee jelly is the black sugar boba + pearl + tiger jelly milk with cream mousse).
The concept of chocolate and coffee as complementary flavors is not groundbreaking, but I was pleasantly surprised by the result. The chocolate indeed has a strong malt flavor, so beware that even without the added sweetness from the toppings it is a very sweet dessert drink.
The tiger jelly is not very dense and has a nearly crunchy consistency.
Black sugar mochi bobo with cream mousse
The black sugar mochi bobo with cream mousse (#6 on the menu) was far less sweet than I’d expected based off Tiger Sugar’s other drinks.
For those who might misinterpret the name (like I did), the boba is the same as in other drinks; the mochi is mixed into the drink as a soft complementary texture to the milk-based drink. However, the pillowy addition tastes more like crème brûlée than Japanese mochi (rice cakes).
Golden oolong tea with pearls
For customers who want to keep their drinks simple, rather than a sugary treat, Tiger Sugar has brewed black, oolong and green tea drinks.
The 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 store’s other more dessert-like drinks at that level. Just know that any toppings added will likely make the drink sweeter.
I substituted the boba for pearls, which are tapioca balls that are about half the size of the black sugar boba, and enjoyed the texture it added to the iced tea.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Tiger Sugar's Arizona location: Milk tea, boba on the menu