BENJAMIN KAPLAN/SAGAMORE STAFF
Among Allston’s hot competition of bubble tea brands, a new challenger may be in the running for the top spot.
This Tiger Sugar location is the first of the chain in the Boston area, and it brings the acclaimed sugary drink that became a hit in New York City to us. The menu is small, only totaling five drinks right now. There is also a side menu including eight more generic items, such as green tea with bubbles, but the primary five-item menu is the main selling point.
We decided to try their two most popular drinks, as well as their most unique one, to get an idea of what Tiger Sugar is about and why their line is always so long.
The Black Sugar Boba + Pearl Milk with Cream Mouse, often referred to as the #1 of the menu is Tiger Sugar’s claim to fame. It doesn’t disappoint, with the drink being both unique in flavor while never too bizarre. The drink is creamy, and though sweet, isn’t as sugary as other boba brands, such as Kung Fu Tea. It has a touch of coffee in it, which blends well with the brown sugar, but is also sweet and tasty on its own.
It also wouldn’t be bubble tea without bubbles, and the ones Tiger Sugar uses are just right. The #1 uses a combination of regular-sized and smaller bubbles, which all have a nice and chewable-yet-soft texture.
The #1 comes in one size, which is a little small for the price of $6, but it’s worth it due to the delicious quality. The biggest issue with the #1 is that it’s ultimately a very “love it or hate it” kind of drink. The unique taste isn’t palatable to everyone, and a small menu, where every other drink can be seen as simply a variation of the #1, can feel even more limited to those who dislike the #1’s taste.
The #2, which Tiger Sugar states is a “Best Seller” feels like a simply worse version of the #1. The drink is identical to the #1 save for numerous jelly squares that have a mediocre texture. It’s also sweeter and has more coffee, so the delicately perfect balance of the #1 is not present in this one.
The most unique of the five drinks is the chocolate-flavored #3. The #3 is far better for those with more particular tastes, as the flavor of the tea is very soothing and tastes like high-quality chocolate milk. The bubbles, once again a combo of big and small, blend well with the chocolate tea, and it’s a generally relaxing drink. For those who dislike coffee or the more unique sugary tastes of the other drinks, #3 should be right up your alley.
As we continue down the menu, the #4 is a coffee variant of the #1, for those who love caffeinated drinks. And the #5 is just the #1 with pudding.
The Tiger Sugar location itself can be described as a highly efficient bunker. After descending down some steps, the shop sports a small square room with an order and pickup counter (with a plexiglass barrier between you and the workers), and the kitchen is visible from behind it. Hand sanitizer is available, but the small space is still a possible risk site for COVID-19, so double masking is probably the way to go if you’re apprehensive about COVID-19 safety.
Ordering is simple and fast, mainly due to the good service and simplicity of the five-item menu. If you’re using a debit or credit card, you’ll have to buy two or more drinks, as there’s a $10 minimum for both. Customers get an order number and wait outside until the LED sign in the window gets to their number. The customer is then handed a bag with the tea and a straw for it, and then leaves. Overall: excellent and efficient service.
Tiger Sugar has the potential to really give Gong-Cha, Kung Fu Tea, and the many other bubble tea competitors around Boston a run for their money, but only if they seize their opportunities to grow. The current menu is high quality, apart from the #2, yet concentrated. As a result, it lacks variety and will fail to compete if it doesn’t add more items. In its current, just-opened state, Tiger Sugar is unique and worth a try, yet may not quite have what it takes to establish itself as a restaurant amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.