Thai Iced Tea

Thai iced tea

Mr. K and I both love Thai Iced Tea and it’s something Mr. K almost always orders when we are at a Thai restaurant. I’ve always known that it’s pretty easy to make, but for some reason I never bothered to try until now.

Recently, I came across quite a few Thai iced tea recipes, once again reminding me how easy it is to make your own.
thai-iced-tea-27
There are two Thai tea brands I often see.

I prefer using these tea bags because they are quick and clean. The loose tea leaves take more effort and have more clean-up. This brand tastes great, though the color is a little lighter. If you use one tea bag per cup, the tea comes out a dark orange, but once you add the milk, it turns a much lighter orange. When just drinking this at home, I don’t really care about appearance. Since Thai tea gets its orange color from the tea leaves being dyed, I don’t mind that it’s a little lighter in color as long as it tastes good.


If you are doing something where you care about the presentation, then I recommend this Thai tea mix. These contain loose tea leaves. You add them to the boiling water and then you have to strain them. The tea brews up a very dark brown, almost black. Once you add the ice and milk, it will turn into a dark orange. The color is more like what you’re often served at restaurants. What I don’t like is that it’s really hard to properly strain the tea leaves out and I always end up with a little bit of black tea powder at the bottom of my cup. Also there is a lot more to wash after making the tea.

Once your tea is brewed, you add in the ice, and then you add condensed milk. You can also flavor it with sugar and milk or sugar and half and half. I prefer the condensed milk version. You don’t have to add too much to get it sweet, whereas I feel like I have to add a lot more sugar and creamer to get the tea sweet enough.

The aroma of the tea leaves is so nice when this is brewing, another bonus for making it at home.

At restaurants, it’s usually served with the milk poured in but not completely mixed, so you get a two or three toned glass. Once you stir it with a spoon, it becomes a uniform orange. I tried to capture the before and after with these two glasses.

Thai Iced Tea

Ingredients:

Thai tea bag or mix
condensed milk (or sugar and cream)

Directions:

Brew tea according to instructions. If using the tea bags shown above, put one tea bag into 1 cup of boiling hot water and let tea bag stew about 20 minutes. Then pour into glass with ice. Add in condensed milk or sugar and cream and stir. Pour as much as needed for desired sweetness.

If brewing with the loose tea leaf mix bring water to boil and add in 1/4 cup tea leaves for every 1 cup of water. Let tea leaves soak for about 20 minutes before straining. Strain twice to try to remove all the leftover black tea powder. Pour into glass filled with ice. Add in condensed milk or sugar and creamer until it reaches desired sweetness. Stir with spoon.

All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

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30 comments on “Thai Iced Tea”

  1. In Thailand, we mostly use the loose leaves type to make a batch. (personally I think this brand http://chathai.herokuapp.com/products tastes best and also most popular. But I’m not sure whether you could find it states-side. I did had to bring it with me when I went living abroad lol) The problem is the loose leaves are smaller than usual western/japanese tea leaves so normal tea strainers won’t do. We always use cloth-type tea strainer. But, like you said, it’s such a hassle to clean. So whenever I make the tea myself, I brew it with vacuum type coffee maker instead.

    Also, sweetened condensed milk is the key! I don’t know why but sugar alone won’t do it. It just didn’t taste right. The first time I made it I was abroad (well, I guess nobody make this themselves in Thailand. The drink is rather cheap here.) and couldn’t find sweetened condensed milk so I replaced it with sugar and cream but I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. Anyway, to imitate the authentic taste, the amount of SCM we put in each drink is quite alarming! lol

    • Ooh thanks for your input. Yes I am so frustrated that the tea leaves don’t completely strain with the tea strainers I have. I usually have no issues with my Chinese teas, but these tea leaves are much smaller. I usually strain them twice with this little mesh strainer I have, but there’s still black stuff at the bottom of the cup. And condensed milk! I always do condensed milk. I do feel like it doesn’t taste right without it, I’m glad you think so too.

  2. I use the same tea bags when I make this! The bags are pretty cheap when I buy them at 99 Ranch. I use simple sugar to sweeten the tea and then add 1/2 and 1/2 cream or heavy cream. Somehow it doesn’t taste as good as the tea from Thai Restaurants but hey, making it at home is a lot cheaper !

  3. My kiddo likes Thai iced tea with boba. I have a bag of boba in the pantry and an opened container of condensed milk. Now I need to buy the Thai tea. The pictures of the tea you bought will make it easier to find at the market.

  4. Very nice post! I love the color of the tea when it’s two toned! 🙂 in the restaurants, it doesn’t seem like they use sweetened condensed milk becuase isn’t that heavier? i think i’ve only had it with cream. i would love to try it with the SCM though since i like that in my Vietnamese iced coffee.

  5. How much milk do you add for one glass?

  6. How do you get the milk to float on top of the tea? Whenever I pour condensed milk, it mixes in directly.

    • You pour it very slowly. If you pour it fast is will sink the bottom, but if you only do a little bit at a time, it won’t sink until there is a lot.

  7. Hi!

    I had my very first glass of Thai tea about a year ago (Dec. 2012) and have been eager to learn to make it since then! My husband bought me a bag of Pantai Thai tea, and today was my first attempt at making it–hence my coming across your article! 🙂

    I was wondering…do you sweeten the tea with sugar before adding the ice and sweetened condensed milk? Or is the sweetened condensed milk enough to sweeten the whole glass?

    Also, does the tea not get too strong after steeping for 20 minutes? I steeped this first experimental cup for about 5 and it seems rather strong. Maybe I didn’t add enough milk? (I must admit, I actually “cheated” and used milk & coffee creamer since I didn’t have sweetened condensed milk on hand.)

    Thanks for your article! 🙂

    • If you are adding condensed milk you don’t need sugar because condensed milk is super sweet. Hmm, I didn’t have any issues of my tea being too strong. You could try doing a little less tea leaves if you feel yours is too strong.

  8. Ok, thanks! 🙂

  9. i think black tea works well, and according to the wikipedia page the orange version/s that are dyed to imitate the actual tea used ARE just black tea–and it makes sense that such a market opportunity would be seized

  10. My Thai co-worker recommended the Pantai loose tea and I’ve been using a French press which strains it pretty well. I’ve heard that there is something called a “tea sock” that can be found at the Asian market that also strains well.

    Thanks for the tip on using sweetened condensed milk! Yum!

  11. I believe that the tea used for Thai iced tea is not dyed. The
    color of thai iced tea is from the combined colors of the ingre-
    dients. (ceylon or assam or darjeeling black tea, cardamom,ground
    tamarind, vanilla extract, cinnamon and star anise.)

    • Hmm, I did read somewhere that they are dyed, but then I don’t know for sure. I don’t have much information on it. thanks for your input!

  12. Hello. I have been researching Thai Iced Tea and the coloring is definitely due to food coloring. The spices you listed, Chris, are in Chai, not Thai Iced Tea. I wish I could find the tea without the food coloring.

  13. Recently I have become very creative with food and beverages due to a lack of a decent income preventing me from enjoying some of the things I once did in restaurants. Thai iced tea is one of those. I found that I can enjoy a drink that tastes as good as Thai iced tea simply by making a jug of strong iced tea and adding International Delight Coldstone Creamery Sweet Cream. It takes a strong tea and very little of the cream and I am happily enjoying it for about a quarter per 16oz glass and it is as easy as pouring a glass of tea with a bit of sweetener.

  14. Hi! I recently discovered thai tea an i loved it! I haven’t been able to find it in any store though, can you please tell me where to buy it?

  15. I was reading an MSN article about Thai dishes to make at home, and the link to Thai iced tea was to your blog!

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/foodanddrink/recipes/23-thai-dishes-you-can-make-at-home/ss-BBrGIuR?ocid=mailsignout#image=3

    I’ll have to look for the packaged tea bags now.

  16. I recently discovered thai iced tea, and the thai place that serves manages to serve us a gluten free one which does not make me sick as I have Celiac disease. Yet, they did not tell us the brand to buy or what kind of tea to look for. So if anyone can figure this out, please let me know.

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