Thai Iced Tea (ชาเย็น) – How to Make it
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My favorite orange-colored tea! Thai iced tea is sweet, creamy and oh so refreshing! No wonder why it’s become such an iconic summer drink and the good news is, it’s very easy to make!
When I lived in Bangkok my two favorite drinks were lime soda (soda water with fresh lime juice and sugar syrup) and Thai iced tea, which is called cha yen in Thai.
I must have drank gallons and gallons of these sweet beverages during my 6 months in Bangkok.
While lime sodas were mostly for days on the beach in Phuket, Thai iced teas were for the city when I would do my shopping in crowded street markets. In southeast Asia, it’s served in small clear plastic bags tied with a red string that you wrap around your wrist and drink through a straw. To me, cha yen is the street food/drink version of pad thai – cheap, delicious and best when it’s kept simple.
What is Thai Iced Tea?
Thai tea is a creamy orange-colored beverage made with black tea, water or orange blossom water, coconut milk or whole milk, and sweetened with sugar and/or condensed milk. It’s served cold in a tall glass or a plastic bag with crushed ice and can also be topped with evaporated milk.
It’s very similar to English tea in that it’s made with black tea, is sweet and creamy.
How Much Caffeine Does a Glass of Thai Tea Contain?
One cup of Thai milk tea roughly contains 20-60 mg of caffeine. The reason why the answer is vague is because the tea is diluted in water, milk and ice cubes, so it’s difficult to gage exactly how much caffeine a cup contains. The more diluted it gets, the lower the amount of caffeine.
To give you an idea of how much it is, one cup of coffee contains approximately 95 mg of caffeine. So no matter how strong your Thai tea is, it’s still relatively low in caffeine compared to coffee.
How to Make Thai Iced Tea
- You will need black tea in the form of tea bags or loose leaves. Buy the strongest black tea bags you can find such as Assam or Ceylon tea, or get Pantai’s Thai Tea Mix brand which are loose/shredded leaves especially made for Thai iced tea. Both options work well and taste really good.
- Bring a pot of water to boil, add your tea and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and steep for 20 minutes and don’t worry about the tea tasting bitter – this process is different than making regular tea since we’ll be adding a lot of sweetness to it.
- Remove the tea bags or strain your tea in a large bowl with a sieve to remove the leaves. Transfer the tea to a pitcher, stir in the condensed milk (or sugar and coconut milk or whole milk) and refrigerate until chilled.
- Serve the tea in tall glasses with ice cubes and if you want to dress it up, a few mint leaves or a cinnamon stick.
What is Condensed Milk?
Condensed is milk that’s been evaporated and sweetened with sugar. It’s that delicious sticky, off-white, glue-looking syrup that’s sold in a can. It’s extremely popular in Southeast Asia and Central America in desserts (tres leches) and drinks (Vietnamese coffee), and many people, including myself, love to spread it on toast.
What is Evaporated Milk?
Evaporated milk is milk that’s been boiled until it becomes thick like cream. The same cooking process as condensed milk is used except that there’s no sugar added. The consistency is also different so it’s important not to confuse the two when you are following a recipe.
Calories in Thai Iced Tea
1 cup of this Thai iced tea recipe contains approximately 196 calories but I’ve read that some recipes can contain as much as 300 calories per cup.
Clearly, this is not a super healthy recipe. While there are a myriad of health benefits to reap from drinking tea, sipping on cha yen means you are also guzzling lots of fat and sugar.
Moderation is key here. Enjoy occasionally and always order a small size.
Thai Style Meal
That’s it for this lesson! Now you know how to make Thai tea from scratch.
Thai cuisine is one of the best cuisines in the world. Unfortunately, here in America it tends to be too sweet and lacking in depth of flavor. Learning to make it yourself is a great way to really taste the authentic flavors of this beautiful Southeast Asian country.
Here are some easy and quick authentic Thai recipes you will fall in love with:
- Classic pad Thai
- Pad kee mao (drunken noodles)
- Thai coconut soup (tom ka)
- Thai green curry
- Mango sticky rice
- Thai peanut sauce
Did you like this Thai Iced Tea Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Thai Iced Tea Recipe
This is a traditional summer Thai iced tea recipe you can make with only 3 ingredients! Sweet, cold and so refreshing!
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Total Time: 7 minutes
- Yield: 5 cups 1x
- Category: Drinks
- Cuisine: Thai
- 5 cups water
- 8 black tea bags or about 1 cup Pantai’s Thai Iced Tea Mix
- 1 cup condensed milk
- Ice cubes
- mint leaves or cinnamon sticks (for garnish)
- Boil water and add tea bags.
- Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until tea is very strong.
- Transfer hot tea to a pitcher or bowl and add condensed milk. Stir well and refrigerate until cold.
- Serve this Thai iced tea recipe with ice cubes and top with mint leaves or cinnamon stick (optional).
Thai iced tea will keep refrigerated in a pitcher for up to 5 days.
Keywords: recipe, beverage, summer drink
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