Thai Tea – Traditional Oriental Drink FAQ

Thai Tea – Traditional Oriental Drink FAQ

Thai Tea – saves summer days with fresh and revitalizing taste

What is Thai Tea?

Thailand is usually associated with spicy food, bizarre food combinations, and exotic edible creatures for the majority of people. Yet, apart from this specialty, local people are great fans of tea! Who would’ve thought that such a hot country as Thailand could boast of such a ‘typical’ beverage? A traditional Thai tea is a combination of milk, tea and sugar – it pretty much looks like cappucino, except in the latter case coffee is the main ingredient, not the tea. You can find both hot and cold tea variations in Southeast Asia, but a cold variant is met much more frequently. 

The History of Thai Tea

Thai iced tea, or “cha yen” as it’s originally called, is an orange-hued drink with distinct creamy, icy, and sweet texture which millions of people around the world love too much. But how did it first appear and when exactly did this drink start pampering the tastes of local people? Well, the history of this beverage presumably dates back to the second century B.C, when the tea was introduced to the Kingdom of Siam most likely by the Chinese people. One of the factors which significantly influenced this emergence was a well-traveled trade route from China to India which wound through Thailand. That’s the popular story number one. 

Another story suggests that the tea’s popularity in the country has boomed considerably since close connections with the British at the beginning of the 1800s, when King Rama IV and King Rama V ruled from 1804 to 1854. One more theory indicates that servants used the leftover tea leaves from rich households and added spices to the brewed drink. This, in turn, resulted in the appearance of the tea as we know it today. While you’re breaking your head on which theory is the most probable, we advise you to simply feel grateful to whoever created this tea and enjoy its fullest effect.

What is it Like to Try Thai Tea?

The experience of drinking this tea is similar to consuming a regular black tea with milk and sugar. In fact, if you’re an experienced drinker and want to try new, exotic things, then Thai tea  will probably not impress you much. But if you want to elaborate your traditional drinking routine with elevated flavor, this beverage will tickle your receptors with quite a pleasant taste.

The Flavor of Thai Tea

This beverage is sweet, contains dairy, and is cold, which makes it an ideal beverage to have with your favorite spicy food. Even though you can use teabags to prepare this drink, it tastes better with loose-leaf tea because the flavor is richer and more complex this way. Also, you’ll notice that the tea is very sweet. That’s because lots of people prefer adding condensed milk to it, which is sweet by default. But, if you don’t like this overly luscious flavor, you can always substitute this ingredient with a lesser amount of regular sugar.

What Does Thai Tea Look Like?

It looks like an orange drink that beautifully merges with white milk. Once you mix these colors, your tea will take beige coloring. But keep in mind that this color profile is present in naturally brewed tea without food coloring. Yes, many tea sellers add red or orange food coloring to enrich the beverage with bright-red hue which gradually transforms into saturated orange once mixed with condensed milk. 

How to Prepare Thai Tea?

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons loose-leaf black tea (use robust tea (Ceylon, Assam or Keemun). Alternatively, you can use 4 teabags of strong black tea). 
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 2 pods cardamom
  • Optional: 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • Optional: 1/8 vanilla bean
  • Optional: ground tamarind to taste
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk or simple sugar
  • 2 teaspoons evaporated/coconut/whole milk 
  • mint leaves as garnish


  1. Steep the tea, star anise, cardamom, optional cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, tamarind, and almond extract in the boiling water for a couple of minutes.
  2. Strain the tea
  3. Stir in the sugar or sweetened condensed milk until completely dissolved.
  4. Fill two tall glasses with ice
  5. Pour the tea over the ice, leaving some space at the top for milk.
  6. Top up with more ice if needed, and then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of milk on each glass. Add mint leaves for garnish if you want to.
  7. Add straws if desired and serve immediately.

As you can see, Thai Tea is not the most difficult tea to prepare in the universe. All you need are enthusiasm, hot weather, and coach to lean on while enjoying this majestic, exotic drink.

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