Tiger-Tastic or Tiger-Tragic? A Review of Tiger Sugar’s Bubble Tea

Is being able to shake this bubble tea fifteen times actually worth the wait and price?


Joanna Zhao

Tiger Sugar’s signature Brown Sugar Drink has stripes of brown sugar running down the sides of the cup, giving the drink that iconic “tiger stripe” look.

Tiger Sugar has recently established its presence in New York’s bubble tea scene with two newly opened shops in Chinatown and Flushing! Tiger Sugar is a bubble tea chain brand that originated in Taichung, Taiwan. It has opened over 40 stores worldwide, with stores in the U.S., China, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Canada, and soon, Australia. 

The shop is best known for its iconic drink with cream mousse and “tiger stripes” of brown sugar syrup running down the cup. To get the best taste, the shop recommends you shake your drink fifteen times so the drink mixes well, and the boba becomes chewy and tasty. 

“We have a very secret and unique formula for making the brown sugar,” Calvin Sun, the CEO of Tiger Sugar, said in an interview for QNS. “We import all of the brown sugar, which America doesn’t have. The formula and ingredients will make…a drink with a lot of layers with a refreshing taste.” 

Yet, despite all of the international excitement for the chain, many people in New York, specifically at Bronx Science, did not find the increasingly popular drink to be worth it. When considering the wait on line, taste, price, and many other factors, around 80% of students who were interviewed were not impressed with Tiger Sugar. 

With the opening of these shops came interested customers who hoped to get a taste of this iconic brown sugar drink. However, this led to many long lines that stretched further than an entire street block; this caused many disappointing experiences and even discouraged some from buying the drink at all. The wait time is now relatively short compared to when the shop first opened, but prospective customers can still expect to wait around fifteen minutes for one drink.

Joanna Zhao
When you approach the counter, you usually see a crowd of people waiting to order a drink from this famous bubble tea shop.

There are also many people that think Tiger Sugar does not taste as good as people make it out to be. 

“[The drink is] just a novelty drink that makes adding extra sugar and molasses to your tea more aesthetic,” said Jeffery Luo ’20. “Although I must say the boba was especially chewy and fun to eat, the extra sugar made the tea much too sweet and with the sweet boba added on, it felt like a pile of sweetness just attacked my tongue.”

Furthermore, the drinks are considered too expensive in comparison to their quality. Prices of the drinks vary from $4.00 to $6.00, which is considerably more expensive than other bubble tea prices in New York City. 

“There is no real ‘specialty’ in making the drink because its main three components, boba pearls, milk, and brown sugar, are all relatively simple ingredients that you can find at your local Chinese grocery store,” Kin Yang ’20 said. “For nearly six dollars, you can get a full course meal in Flushing.” 

However, there has also been some positive feedback about Tiger Sugar. “[The drinks are] way different than drinks from other bubble tea shops that are prevalent in the west. I think Tiger Sugar is creamier, and they pay a lot of attention to the boba, as it’s freshly made and soft,” Yilan Zhang ’20 said. “I like how they tell us to shake it fifteen times, which I found interactive and sweet (pun intended).” 

So is Tiger Sugar worth the hype? Many say that the lines were too long, the drink was too expensive, and its flavor was not the most memorable. However, Tiger Sugar has aesthetically pleasing drinks, and many people enjoy photographing them to post on social media. The tea is also relatively sweet and creamy compared to other brands, so it can satisfy one’s sweet tooth. The lines are now relatively shorter than before, so if you want to go try out their signature drink, you should do so now!  

For some bubble tea alternatives, you can check out Kin Yang’s article “Inves-Tea-Gating”! He lists a lot of other great options that are really popular among our Bronx Science students.