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.
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).
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.
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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.
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.
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
- 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
- First step is to boil water, I’m just using a pot, but you could use a water boiler or microwave
- 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.
- 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.
- Taking a new cup, pour in 1 glass of hot tea
- Add 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk, and give it a nice stir
- Then add 2 teaspoons of evaporated milk, and continue to stir the tea until everything is fully mixed in
- 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!
- Take a cup and fill it all the way to the top with crushed ice
- Gentry pour your hot tea mixture over the cup of ice
- To give your Thai iced tea a final creamy touch, drizzle on some more evaporated milk onto the top of your cup
- Add a straw, and you’re ready to start slurping it down!
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!