Thai Iced Tea: Recipe, Health Benefits, and Where to Find It

Thai Iced Tea: Recipe, Health Benefits, and Where to Find It

Authentic Thai iced tea, or “cha yen,” originates from Thailand. Its roots can be traced back to the early 20th century. Thai street vendors began serving it as a cooling beverage to beat the high temperatures in the region. The blend of black tea, spices, and sweetened condensed milk became a cultural staple. Today, cha yen holds a significant place in Thai cuisine and is popular globally.

Key Ingredients

Thai Black Tea: The base of authentic Thai iced tea. This tea provides a robust flavor and deep color.

Spices: Star anise and orange blossom water enhance the tea’s unique taste, giving it aromatic complexity.

Sweeteners: Sweetened condensed milk and sugar add the characteristic richness and sweetness.

Food Coloring: Some recipes include coloring to achieve its distinctive orange hue.

These components combine to create the signature taste and appearance that defines authentic Thai iced tea.

How to Make Authentic Thai Iced Tea

Traditional Brewing Techniques

To make authentic Thai iced tea, start with 4 tablespoons of Thai black tea leaves. Place the tea leaves in a strainer over a pot, then pour 2 cups of boiling water through the strainer. Let it steep for 5 minutes to extract the flavors.

While the tea steeps, add 2 star anise pods, 1 crushed cardamom pod, and 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water. Stir gently to ensure even mixing of spices. Once steeping is complete, remove the tea leaves and spices from the pot.

Stir in 3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk and 2 tablespoons of sugar until fully dissolved. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature before pouring it over a glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a slice of lime or a sprinkle of ground cardamom for an extra touch of flavor.

Modern Variations

Modern variations of Thai iced tea incorporate different ingredients for unique twists. Replace the traditional sweetened condensed milk with coconut milk or almond milk for a dairy-free option. To add a herbal note, substitute star anise with 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

For a sweeter taste, use 4 tablespoons of coconut sugar or honey instead of regular sugar. Adding boba pearls can create a Thai iced bubble tea. Simply cook the boba pearls according to the package instructions, and add them to your glass before pouring in the tea.

Another option includes blending the cooled tea with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to create a Thai iced tea float. This variation offers a creamy, indulgent treat. Experimenting with different flavors and ingredients allows you to enjoy Thai iced tea with a personalized twist.

Health Benefits and Concerns

Nutritional Information

Authentic Thai iced tea contains key ingredients, offering specific nutritional elements. Thai black tea provides antioxidants like catechins, which may support overall health. The sweetened condensed milk and sugar add calories, with a typical serving containing around 200-300 calories. This beverage also offers small amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 from the milk. Spices like star anise and cardamom contribute trace nutrients and potential anti-inflammatory properties.

Nutritional Breakdown (per serving):

Calories200-300 kcal
Total Fat3-5 grams
Saturated Fat2-3 grams
Carbohydrates30-40 grams
Sugars25-35 grams
Protein2-4 grams
Calcium80-100 mg
Vitamin D0.5-1.0 mcg
Vitamin B120.1-0.3 mcg

Potential Health Effects

Authentic Thai iced tea offers several benefits and concerns for your health, depending on its consumption. The antioxidants in Thai black tea may help fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Spices like star anise and cardamom can aid digestion and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

However, high sugar content and calories in a typical serving may raise concerns, especially if consumed frequently. Elevated sugar consumption may lead to weight gain and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. For those lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, alternative milks like almond or coconut offer lactose-free options. Moderation remains key to enjoying the benefits while minimizing potential risks.

Where to Find Authentic Thai Iced Tea

Restaurants and Cafes

Explore local restaurants and cafes specializing in Thai cuisine to find authentic Thai iced tea. Many Thai restaurants offer cha yen, which captures traditional flavors. Look for popular spot names like Thai eateries or bistros in your area, as they’re likely to serve quality Thai iced tea. Asian street food markets also offer authentic drinks, including Thai iced tea, often freshly prepared. If you travel abroad, particularly to Thailand, street vendors serve some of the best authentic cha yen, known for their robust flavors and vibrant colors.

Online Resources and Recipes

Purchase Thai iced tea mixes and recipes from online retailers. Websites like Amazon and specialty stores sell authentic tea blends and essential ingredients like Thai black tea, star anise, and condensed milk. YouTube offers tutorials on making cha yen, showing preparation techniques and ingredient proportions. Food blogs often post detailed recipes with step-by-step instructions, ensuring you can replicate authentic Thai iced tea at home. Online stores selling Asian groceries usually have ready-to-brew packets, making it easy to enjoy cha yen anywhere.


Authentic Thai iced tea offers a delightful blend of flavors and a rich cultural experience. While it’s essential to be mindful of its sugar content, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this beverage in a healthier manner. Whether you’re savoring it at a local cafĂ© or brewing it at home, cha yen promises a refreshing and flavorful treat. Explore the diverse options available and find your perfect cup of Thai iced tea.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *