Thai Iced Tea Recipe

Having lived in Thailand for over 25 years, I am quite familiar with both Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee. If you love a sweet, milky tea then Thai iced tea will probably be a favorite! Be warned though, this tea is traditionally very sweet–yet it is that sweetness that makes it a unique drink that is especially delectable on a hot summer’s day.

The tea uses a black tea base, and it is sweetened with  both sugar and sweetened condensed milk! Here is a list of the ingredients you will need to have on hand if you want to make some.

  • black powdered tea leaves
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • evaporated milk
  • ice cubes
  • white sugar

 

Photo By: Rick

Preparation

First of all brew up some strong black tea. Traditionally, Thais will use a tea steeper to brew the tea. This is a muslin or cotton filter, somewhat tubular in shape that is attached to a wire ring and handle at the top of the filter. In reality, it works in much the same way as an infuser. You place the tea leaves inside the filter and pour boiling water over the leaves with the filter held over a teapot, waiting until the tea is the desired strength. Again, you will want to make the tea stronger than you would traditionally brew black tea as it will be diluted with condensed milk and it will be poured over ice. It is better to err on the side of a strongly brewed cup of tea rather than a weak or medium brewed cup.  Kasma Loha-unchit, on her Thai Food and Travel site, recommends two tablespoons of tea to one cup of boiling water.

Once the tea is brewed, and while it is still hot, you need to add sugar (one or two teaspoons) and the sweetened condensed milk.  Remember to stir the tea when adding the thick condensed milk as that will help it dissolve into the tea. Otherwise, you may find the condensed milk simply sinks to the bottom of the tea and does not mix in properly.

When you have added the sugar and condensed milk to the black tea, pour this mix into a glass filled with ice cubes. Finally use the evaporated milk to top off the iced tea. Insert a straw into the drink, sit back and relax with your Thai iced tea.

What Type of Tea To Use

If you are using regular black tea you will want to add a couple of ingredients to the tea while it is brewing to bring out the “real” flavor.  You can also find Thai Spice Tea online, and in some shops–this tea is already flavored and in some instances an orange food coloring is added so that the resultant brew is quite orange in color. It is also referred to as “Thai Seasoning Mix” or “Thai Tea Dust”.  If you want it to taste very authentic, and you are not concerned about the color additives it will give you the most authentic glass of Thai iced tea.

If you prefer to use regular black tea you will want to spice it up with Star of Anise and cardamom.  Ground tamarind is also sometimes used; this will give it a lemon flavor which can be very refreshing on a hot day.  If you want to experiment you can try adding other spices to the tea such as cinnamon, cloves or vanilla beans. If you want the orange color, which is typical with Thai spiced teas, you could try adding a few drops of orange flower water. As you can see, there are quite a few variations you can try–experiment and see what you prefer!

Finally, if you want to be truly traditional, you should pour the mix into a plastic bag, stick a straw into the corner and wrap it off with a fine nylon string fashioned in such a way that you can carry the bag on your arm or in your hand!  Yes, in Thailand they really do serve many drinks in plastic bags with ice including iced coffee and even hot coffee! I have also seen them pop a straw into their bottle of beer, so be warned! Otherwise you can simply serve it in a tall, ice filled glass — with a straw, of course!

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