THAI ICED TEA is a delicious and refreshing Thai drink made from tea, milk, and sugar. Popular in Southeast Asia and served in many Thai food restaurants, learning HOW TO MAKE THAI ICED TEA is easy and effortless, requiring just a handful of simple ingredients.
After traveling through Southeast Asia for 6 months in 2011, Thai food still, to this day, remains my favorite cuisine to recreate here on TFS and include this Pineapple Coconut Thai Fish Curry, Spicy Thai Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Ramen with Chicken, and Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tangy Cabbage Slaw.
If you have ever been to Thailand or many Thai food restaurants, chances are, you’ve crossed paths with Thai iced tea. Before ever traveling to Thailand, I remember my husband (then college boyfriend) ordering this creamy and sweet orange-colored tea any chance he could.
And then Thailand happened.
Many years ago, before parenthood and responsibility, my husband and I spent a total of 45 beautiful days in Thailand scuba diving off Koh Tao and doing absolutely nothing on Koh Phi Phi except eating, drinking, and being merry. One may expect that in that month and a half we drank as much Thai Iced Tea as possible, but that simply was not the case. What? You ask. How can that be?
THAI ICED TEA IN THAILAND VS. WESTERN CULTURES.
The Thai Iced Tea we know and love here in the United States is not necessarily traditional Thai Iced Tea. In fact, tea, overall, is a relatively new concept believed to have been brought over to Thailand sometime in the 1980’s from China and originally consisted of black tea, condensed milk, and sometimes crushed ice (always crushed ice).
It was at this time that Thai Tea (known as Cha Yen) became a staple of Thai street food.
That bright orange color and all those spices? Those were added when Thai tea became more and more popular in Westernized cultures in order to set it apart from regular, plain black tea (aka marketing). In fact, in the early years of westernized Thai iced tea, chefs would add orange food coloring to really give it a bright orange hue.
Nowadays, you’ll find both versions of Thai tea in Thailand- the “traditional” and the westernized version.
WHAT IS THAI ICED TEA?
In its simplest form- black tea, condensed milk, and ice.
How is Thai Tea different from regular black tea?
I like to think of regular black tea as the introverted sibling to Thai Tea. Although the introverted version of black tea is delicious, Thai Tea is bold, exciting, and full of flavor.
What’s responsible for all this amazing concentrated flavor?
Thai Tea is infused with star anise and cloves and sweetened with sugar or sweetened condensed milk.
Thai tea can be made two ways-
- From a pre-made tea mix which includes the coloring and the spices mixed in with the black tea.
- Or from simple, plain, strong black tea.
The recipe I am sharing here today is using a mix. After all, I’m American and this is what I know best.
There is not much about this recipe that is “traditional”.
- The ice isn’t crushed.
- I used a tea mix rather than black tea with optional spices.
- I made it at home rather than buy it off the street.
- Rather than serving it in a plastic bag with a straw poking out, I’m drinking it out of a shiny clean glass.
But it’s pretty darn good. And it brings back ALL the memories of scooting from one side of Koh Tao to the other on the back of a teeny tiny little motorbike…without a helmet.
HOW TO MAKE THAI ICE TEA
- Decide which method you want to use and buy some tea. This is the very stuff I used to make this recipe and it does, in fact, taste exactly like the Thai Iced Tea from restaurants. There are other mixes available, so check them out and read reviews if you’re unsure. I can’t speak for them personally.
- Once you have the tea, decide on creamer. I used half and half rather than condensed milk because I prefer less sweetness. If sweetness is your jam, then give condensed milk a try, or perhaps mix one part condensed milk with one part half and half.
- Steep the tea. I brought 2.5 cups of water to a boil and simmered the sugar with the loose tea in the water, covered, for approximately 20 minutes. There is some debate on how long to steep the tea as, in general, much more than 5 minutes will make tea more bitter. For Thai tea, however, a much longer steeping time is recommended.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
- Allow tea to cool.
- Fill a cup with ice (whatever you’ve got) and add the Thai tea approximately two-thirds of the way full. Fill the glass with milk or creamer of choice and stir to combine.
Viola! That’s it! Learning how to make Thai Iced tea is super simple, right?
Delicious, creamy, mildly spiced, slightly caffeinated, and definitely sweet, Thai Iced Tea.
For more tea recipes check out,
For more Thai recipes check out,
- Easy Sheet Pan Thai Chicken with Bok Choy
- Easy Thai Fried Rice Recipe (Khao Phat Kaphrao)
- Thai Noodle Salad with Creamy Peanut Butter Dressing
- Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste
If you love this Thai Iced Tea Recipe, Pin it and save for the next time you need a sweet caffeine pick-me-up or vacation over to Thailand.
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HOW TO MAKE THAI ICED TEA
- 1/2 cup Pantai Thai Tea Mix
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup half and half - or milk of choice (full-fat coconut, sweetened condensed, evaporated, etc.)
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the Pantai Thai Tea Mix and the sugar. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and boil gently for two minutes or so before removing from heat.
- Allow tea to steep for approximately 10-15 minutes before straining through a fine mesh strainer to separate solids. Set tea aside to cool.
- Fill glasses with ice. Pour in the steeped Thai tea approximately two-thirds full, leaving enough room to add milk or cream. Fill the glass full with half and half (or desired milk of choice) and stir to combine.