Thai iced tea, or cha yen, is a cold tea made from a special blend of tea leaves, known as Thai tea. The leaves are flavoured with vanilla, cinnamon and anise. This easy-to-make sweet beverage is a wonderful complement to Thai food, and is always served cold with a bit of evaporated milk floating on top. While popular in Thai restaurants around the world, you can also make your own Thai iced tea at home with Thai tea leaves and a few other common ingredients. This recipe yields approximately four servings.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Medium saucepan
- 1-qt. heatproof pitcher
- ¾ cup Thai tea
- Fine mesh strainer
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 tea glasses
- 1 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half
- 4 long straws or iced tea spoons
Pour 4 cups of water into a medium saucepan. Bring the water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Place a 1-qt. heatproof pitcher in the sink.
Add the tea to the boiling water and remove the pan from the heat. Stir the tea leaves gently to soak them with water, as they will float to the top until stirred. Cover the pan and steep for 3 to 5 minutes, once all the tea leaves are wet.
Strain the tea through a fine mesh strainer into the heatproof container in the sink. Discard the tea leaves. Add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Add more or less sugar to taste, if desired.
Place a lid on the pitcher and place it in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly for at least two hours. Remove the tea from the refrigerator just before serving.
Fill the tea glasses with ice cubes, and add ¾ cup of the chilled Thai iced tea to each one. Top each glass with 4 tbsp of evaporated milk or half-and-half. Serve immediately with a long straw or iced tea spoon.
Tips and warnings
- Store any leftover Thai iced tea in the refrigerator for up to one week before discarding any unused portion.
- If Thai tea is unavailable, you may use regular black tea to make Thai iced tea. Simply add 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp cinnamon to the tea when you add the sugar for extra spice.
- Thai tea can be found in Asian food markets, or ordered online. It may be labelled Thai tea or cha Thai.
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