Thailand has produced a number of worldwide famous beverages:

Red Bull and Singha area few of the most well known, but there’s no drink more famous than Cha Yen (ชาเย็น), or known throughout the world simply as Thai iced tea.

This sweet creamy beverage, that hardly even resembles a regular cup of black tea, is loved in Thailand and served at Thai restaurants around worldwide.

If you enjoy sweet and creamy drinks, there’s hardly a more refreshing and drink option available for you.

ชาตรามือ
Thai tea brand – Cha Dra Muer (ชาตรามือ)

In Thailand, you’ll find countless vendors selling Thai tea on the streets, either from stables street stands and often from mobile motorbike drink carts.

Many of the cha yen (Thai iced tea) vendors, use a brand of tea that comes in a red and white bag known as Cha Dra Muer (ชาตรามือ) – or it’s just known as Number One Brand.

When I was in the US, at the Asian supermarket, I do remember seeing this same brand of tea, so I believe it is available if you live in a major city with an access to a large Asian supermarket.

If not, I think you can make this recipe with any black tea (it just might not have that signature orange color that Thai tea usually has… more on the color below).

How to make Thai iced tea
Yes, I accidentally opened the condensed milk from the bottom.

For this Thai iced tea recipe, you’ll need both sweetened condensed milk, and also evaporated milk.

Sweetened condensed milk (nom khon wan นมข้นหวาน) is thick and sweet, almost like a syrup, while evaporated milk (nom kreme tiam นมครีมเทียม) is like heavy cream, and is unsweetened.

Both come in a can, and the most popular version in Thailand is made by Carnation, though there are a number of other brands as well.

how to make Thai ice tea
Why is Thai iced tea orange?

Why is it so orange?

Have you ever wondered why Thai tea has such an incredibly, and overly orange tone to it?

So did I.

After I read the ingredients list on the bag of tea, I discovered that it includes some C Yellow Number 6 (which is apparently the same food dye that was in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, before it got outlawed).

So that’s the secret, it’s not just that it’s really awesome yellow tea, it’s a food dye that they put into the tea leaves (that’s why it’s the same color as Mac and Cheese).

I think you could make this Thai iced tea recipe with any kind of black tea, and it might just not have that orange color, but I think it would taste fine.

But on the streets of Thailand, or if you go to a Thai restaurant and order iced tea, it will always be the orange color.

Bangkok iced tea recipe
Thai iced tea recipe – try it today

I used about 1 tablespoon of tea leaves for this recipe.

There are a number of different ways you can steep your tea leaves, but the point to remember is you just need to steep them in hot water for a few minutes until you tea is nice and dark orange in color.

I used a tea sock, but you can even just toss your leaves into a cup of hot water, leave it for a few minutes, and then strain out the leaves.

Thai iced tea is always prepared hot, and yet it’s consumed cold on ice.

But rather than sticking it into the fridge or freezer and cooling the tea off, it’s instead poured over a cup of crushed ice before being consumed. When you make your tea, if you taste test it when it’s still hot, you want it to be a little stronger and sweeter than you like it, and it will become diluted as soon as it hits the ice.

(If you can’t see the video, watch it on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/ltE9ufnrA-g)

Thai iced tea recipe (Cha Yen ชาเย็น)

Time: About 10 minutes or less
Recipe size: This recipe is for 1 cup of tea
Cooking Utensils: Cups, spoons, tea sock
Flavors: Sweet drink
Eat it with: Whenever you’re hot and need a refreshing drink

4.7 from 12 reviews
Thai Iced Tea Recipe (Cha Yen) - Authentic Thai Street Food Style!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
There are few things on the streets of Thailand more refreshing than a Thai style iced tea. After the tea is brewed, it's mixed with sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk to make it creamy, rich, and sweet. Cha yen, as it's known in Thai, is famous at Thai restaurants around the world, it makes for a wonderful refreshing beverage. Watch the video recipe here.
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon Thai black tea
  • 1 cup of hot boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons evaporated milk (plus some more to sprinkle on top)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup of crushed ice
Instructions
  1. First step is to boil water, I’m just using a pot, but you could use a water boiler or microwave
  2. Take your tea sock and add about 1 tablespoon of black Thai tea. It’s then easiest to put your tea sock into a bowl or big cup in order to steep the tea.
  3. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into the tea sock, and push it in and out to steep the tea and extract all that flavr. Steep the tea for a few minutes until it turns nice and dark in color.
  4. Taking a new cup, pour in 1 glass of hot tea
  5. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk, and give it a nice stir
  6. Then add 2 teaspoons of evaporated milk, and continue to stir the tea until everything is fully mixed in
  7. Optional - A good Thai iced tea should have a little froth or some bubbles on top, so take 2 pitchers, and pour the tea from one to the other, with a bit of elevation. You could do this in a different way too, but it’s pretty fun!
  8. Take a cup and fill it all the way to the top with crushed ice
  9. Gentry pour your hot tea mixture over the cup of ice
  10. To give your Thai iced tea a final creamy touch, drizzle on some more evaporated milk onto the top of your cup
  11. Add a straw, and you’re ready to start slurping it down!
Notes
Thai iced tea is a great sweet beverage on a hot day! Enjoy this recipe! See the full recipe here and watch the video here.

A really good iced Thai tea should have a little foam and some bubbles on the top, kind of like a cappuccino froth, but not as thick.

One way to get those bubbles, and to really stir up the tea with the milk, is to take two big sized cups, and pour the liquid from cup to the other cup, with a little elevation (see my attempt on the video).

I did end up spilling a bit of the tea, but it sure was a lot of fun.

I still need some practice.

The final step for this Thai iced tea recipe is to drizzle on a little extra evaporated milk on the top of the glass.

You’ll see the milk slowly trickle down into the orange tea. Give it a quick stir with your straw, and you’re ready to consume and refresh yourself.

One last thing, it would not taste the same if you didn’t use a straw – believe me – I don’t really like straws, but for some reason with Thai milky tea, it just tastes better using a straw.

I hope you enjoyed this Thai ice tea recipe. Let me know what you think and how yours turns out in the comments below!

Are you interested in more authentic Thai recipes? Check out  all my other Thai recipes here.



67 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • M

    2 months ago

    Please add a Pinterest link! My device won’t support me having a button from Pinterest to click, so I rely on sites to include it.

    I can’t wait to get to the market to make this!!! A favorite of ours!

  • Clay

    3 months ago

    A quick search on Amazon for “Cha Dra Muer” yields a 400g bag for under $8 USD (ships free with Prime!), I’m going to give it a try!

  • Alan Orth

    3 months ago

    Thanks for the tip about Number One Brand. I’ve been wandering around Bangkok trying to figure out the secret. After I watched your video I actually saw the same damn bag of tea at a tea stall today! I need to go find it now…

  • Charles

    5 months ago

    To correct the misinformation, yellow 6 hasn’t been outlawed, just shunned by food manufacturers due to public demand. While I avoid the stuff like the plague, a little here and there will not hurt you. CHEERS

  • Vanessa

    5 months ago

    How big is the mixing glass cup? How many mls?

  • Maria

    6 months ago

    Delicious! I used my french press (since I don’t have a tea sock) and it came out perfectly. It’s also delicious as a blended beverage (throw everything – including ice – into the vitamix), topped with whipped cream. I had those in Thailand, as well. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Mark!

  • Joy

    6 months ago

    I will surely try this, especially now that it’s summer in Nevada.

    • Joy

      6 months ago

      I will surely try this Thai tea especially summer here in nevada.

  • JENEEN TAYEN

    7 months ago

    How do I get the drink orange?

    • Mark Wiens

      7 months ago

      Hey Jeneen, in Thailand that coloring is within the tea leaves in that brand.

      • Charles

        5 months ago

        Not so, the ingredients are the same, it’s made in Thailand and all brands like Foco from Thailand have it. That said I’m sure when made fresh it is colored otherwise. That said yellow 6 was not been outlawed, just shunned by food manufacturers.

  • Luc

    12 months ago

    Hi there
    Thank you for advice we followed it and the taste was great, remind me of my journey on Bangkok few years ago

  • Cam

    1 year ago

    Wonderful would love to try this can’t save it have trouble writing.
    Please send recipe for Thai Iced Tea Recipe.
    Very Appreciated Thank You
    Cam

  • T. Webster

    1 year ago

    What alcohol would you recommend adding to this?

    • Deborah

      11 months ago

      I saw at a Thai restaurant they added bailey’s to the tea

    • pushka

      9 months ago

      I haven’t tried it, but I’d imagine a bit of one of these:
      Bailey’s, amaretto, khalua , butterscotch schnapps,
      Or a tiny bit of whiskey/ vodka (I like drinking spirits neat, but I love good tea and coffee and don’t like to strengthen it too much)

    • Lucy

      5 months ago

      A Thai restaurant near me serves it with rum and it is delicious!

  • Betty

    1 year ago

    Hello, doesn’t it have star anise and can you substitute evaporated milk with coconut milk? And instead of regular sugar can I use stevia? Thank you!

  • ellie | fit for the soul

    2 years ago

    Hahah I KNEW something was up with the pretty and impossibly bright color because where do you buy orange leaves? xP Still, it’s one of the yummiest dyed drinks out there so I’ll gladly take it still. This is a great recipe and so informative. I’m currently drinking one from a Pho location and just had to google how to make it myself. :)

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Ellie, haha, yah it’s a pretty bright orange. Glad you enjoy cha yen!

      • Barb

        2 years ago

        For the next step of decadence, I have just discovered Thai Iced Tea ice cream at the buffet at Pullman King Power Hotel in Bangkok- the same fabulous colour and taste is sure to please both ice cream lovers and cha yen lovers alike!

  • Kim

    2 years ago

    I missed the taste of Thai Tea that I had 3years ago at Thai Restaurant in Cebu.. Then the sudden idea sparked me to make it my self here in Korea. I was searching for the recipe and I saw yours! I finally found the taste that I was looking for. Your recipe is exactly as the same as the tea I had. Thank you so much Mark :) !! Now I know Why the tea is so CREAMy and tasty. :]

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Kim, thank you very much for sharing, and glad the Thai iced tea turned out so well!

  • Scott

    2 years ago

    It is my understanding that the Thai Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of dye in Thai Tea. Maybe that is why some of the exported bags don’t have the orange color when it is made. But as far as Thailand goes, it is as orange as ever! An easy recipe, every Thai Tea lover should be making it. Thanks again!

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      You’re welcome Scott, and thanks for sharing!

  • Sarah

    2 years ago

    Hi Mark! Any recipe for milk green tea (One Tea Brand)? Hope you could help :D

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hi Sarah, hmm, I think you could make it using the same recipe, just brew the green tea instead of the black / orange tea. Is it powder tea or tea leaves?

      • pushka

        9 months ago

        For Japanese green tea late – they would use matcha powder rather than steeping and straining green tea leaves ~

  • Arthur

    2 years ago

    Just moved to Auckland NZ and tried making Thai Ice Tea here. I noticed that the Number One brand didn’t produce the orange color though the taste is as good as the original from Thailand. I took out the sticker placed over the ingredients list and found out that the coloring was crossed out… so no orange color for me but still the same refreshing sweet drink I enjoy! Thank you for sharing your recipes…

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Arthur, great to hear you made Thai iced tea, glad it turned out so well!

  • Andrew

    2 years ago

    Traditionally, turmeric is used. Cood quality tumeric is very orange. The dye is used to give the illusion of good quality.

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Andrew

    • Leo

      11 months ago

      Traditionally was used tamarind seeds, not turmeric (which gives a yellow colour). Colour dye has been used as it is cheaper then the seeds.

  • Heather

    3 years ago

    my daughter is making this for her school’s international fair as she was assigned Thailand. How well does the tea keep after the ingredients are all added?

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi Heather, it would be best to drink pretty quickly after being mixed together, but you could probably keep it in the fridge for a couple days. Hope your daughter’s assignment goes well!

  • Andrea

    3 years ago

    I made this using your recipe the other day and it was perfect! Thank you! I have a question unrelated to the tea though, that noodle dish with prawn at the beginning segment of your video…it looks delicious! What is it called and do you have the recipe on your website? Thanks!

  • Jerra

    3 years ago

    Hi Mark may I know where cannot buy this brand of Thai tea mix in Bangkok? I remember looking for it at Top and afew supermarket but couldn’t find it.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi Jerra, I’m not sure if they carry them at all supermarkets, but you might try Tesco or Big C. Most of the time I see it at the local markets – like within Khlong Toey market or Phra Khanong Market.

  • Jonathan Wells

    3 years ago

    Cool. “Sunset Yellow FCF (FD&C Yellow 6) has no carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, or developmental toxicity in the amounts at which it used” according to Wikipedia. Drink up!

    Love this site. Looks like you’re having a lot of fun. I need to go to Thailand, never been there, but love Thai food. Everything looks so yummy.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Sound good, thanks for sharing Jonathan, and hope you can visit Thailand in the future!

  • Sofia

    3 years ago

    Hi Mark recently I tried thai food and I love it ☺ I week ago I tried thai tea and we enjoy soo much that we run out the ‘orange’ thai tea on the restaurant. The owner offers us green thai tea and was even better ;) I was seaching for the recipe and I found yours. Do you know if there is specific green tea to do green thai tea?

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi Sofia, great to hear from you, glad you love Thai iced tea! As for the green tea, they normally use a green tea made by the same brand Number One tea Brand. Hope this helps!

  • presa1200

    3 years ago

    Ceylon tea is exclusively produced in sri lanka and i think the idea of mixing tea with spices inspired by indian and middle eastern cuisine because they put spices in their tea too. At first i thought the signature orange tone comes from turmeric but when you mentioned it’s from food dye it doesn’t sound healthy to me. Is there any alternative way to make it look orange? Is turmeric powder good?

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Yah, I agree with you. I think turmeric would make a great substitute. Let me know how it goes!

    • Jessica

      1 year ago

      No, tumeric won’t work since it has strong flavor. It’s better for curry dish, beside that, it doesn’t dissolve well in water.

      • Uday

        1 year ago

        Thanks for the recipe! Yes Turmeric won’t work use the Indian spice called Saffron, that’s expensive herb and has got great medicinal value & has orange color to it!

  • LAN Le

    3 years ago

    Thanks for your sharing :). I hope you will add “kway jab” to Thai street food recipe. It is quite popular n yummy. I love this n have to taste it whenever I travel to BKK. Your sharing becomes my Thai food handbook whenever I leave for The city of Angel.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi LAN, great to hear from you. Good choice, kuay jab is a wonderful dish. Alright will remember that, maybe I can try out the recipe.

  • Ashley

    4 years ago

    I love Thai iced tea! Bizarre that there’s food dye in it, though.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Ashley, yah, I guess that’s just been how they’ve done it for so many years. But I think you could make it with just normal black tea and it would taste pretty good too.

  • Rakhal

    4 years ago

    Great recipe!! I’ve seen them use a lot more than two teaspoons of sugar sometimes which is why I order mine “waan nit noi” (a little sweet). I’m a bit disturbed to learn about the origin of the orange color, but I recently had a cha yen made with black ceylon tea while I was in Ubon and it was the best I’ve ever had!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thank you Rakhal. Haha, yes some make it outrageously sweet. I think the recipe would work well with another type of black tea, minus the yellow coloring.