Learn how to make authentic Thai iced tea (Cha Yen) in two easy methods. Then indulge in the sweet, creamy, rich, and refreshing drink. It's the perfect drink to sip on all year round!
The complex flavors come from the Thai tea leaves and warm and fragrant spices. Then the tea is brewed in hot water to make a strong black Thai tea. Once done with steeping, the tea is mixed with sugar and sweetened condensed milk to make a sweet concoction that is delicious and refreshing!
- What is Thai iced tea?
- Fun facts about Thai iced tea
- Why you'll love Thai iced tea
- Thai tea mixes brands
- Ingredients for making Thai iced tea at home
- How to Make Thai Iced Tea
- Helpful kitchen notes and tips
- Helpful tools for making Thai iced tea
- More delicious drinks you may enjoy
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Thai recipes you'll love
- How to Make Authentic Thai Iced Tea (Cha Yen)
What is Thai iced tea?
Thai iced tea, Cha Nom Yen or Cha Yen (ชาเย็น), is a sweet Thai iced tea made with strong black tea, steeped in hot water, then sweetened with sugar and sweetened condensed milk.
Fun facts about Thai iced tea
In Thailand, you can get traditional Thai tea from Thai street vendors in almost iced teas served in a plastic bag tied at one corner with a rubber band.
Why you'll love Thai iced tea
- It's refreshing after a Thai meal or on hot summer days. It's the perfect complement to all your spicy Thai dishes.
- It's delicious! I have yet to meet one person who doesn't like Thai iced tea! If you've tasted Thai tea, You know it's good! (;
- It's a fun drink to make and share with friends and family. The bright orange makes this drink a fun and colorful addition to your dinner parties.
- Make this Thai iced tea recipe in two different ways. See the instructions below.
- You can freeze leftover tea. Thaw the ice cubes in a tall glass for a quick cold tea on demand!
- This authentic Thai tea recipe is easy to make! Grab all the ingredients from your local Asian market, and you will make the most addictive drink.
- You can make a big batch for serving a big party or at your BBQ.
Thai tea mixes brands
There are two brands of authentic Thai tea mixes you can choose from, I've used both, and my go-to brand is Pan Thai. You can choose either, and both should be available at your local Asian market. If not, you can purchase them below via the links. (Affiliate links)
- Pan Thai, Thai Iced Tea Traditional Restaurant Style
- Number-One ChaTraMue Original Thai Iced Tea Mix (number one hand brand)
Ingredients for making Thai iced tea at home
These are the ingredients you'll need for your homemade Thai tea.
- Thai tea. Use the Pantai Thai brand (affiliate links) or the Number One Thai tea mix brand.
- Sugar. White sugar is best for this delicious beverage. Palm, coconut, or palm sugar could work, but I've only used white sugar.
- Sweetened condensed milk. Use coconut milk, half and half, whole milk, or any milk of choice.
- Evaporated milk. Used for topping off the tea, skip this if preferred
- Salt. Salt cuts the sweetness for a more well-balanced taste.
How to Make Thai Iced Tea
Authentic Thai Iced Tea (Cha Yen) in two easy ways. One with a French press coffee maker and one in a stock pot over a stovetop. Making this popular drink is easier than you think!
I used a 52 Oz French Press for this recipe. If you don't have a French press, use a medium-sized pot. I used the Pan Thai tea mix and the Number One brand of Thai tea mixture to test my Thai tea recipes. They are sold at most Asian grocery stores.
Step 1. In a soup or medium-sized stock pot, heat water until boiling, turn the water off, and remove it from the stove. Add the Thai iced tea mix into the hot water, stirring well until all the leaves are submerged. You'll start to see some of the orange coloring coming through. Let it steep for 8 minutes.
Step 2. While waiting for the tea to steep, add the sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and salt to a large heat-proof bowl, pot, or drink pitcher. Then use a spatula to whisk the ingredients together. Stir well.
Step 3. When the timer is up after 8 minutes, use a tea sock, fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or a splash guard to strain the tea into a heat-proof glass bowl. A thick vase or water pitcher works great. Make sure they are heat safe!
Step 4. Use a spatula or whisk to stir the tea and the condensed mixture.
Have a small taste of the tea and add more sugar if desired. White sugar is better than brown for this recipe. If too sweet, add more salt to round out the sweetness.
Let cool at room temperature, then serve in a glass with ice. Hot Thai tea is great too! Especially the cooler months. Pour 1-3 tablespoons of evaporated milk to top it off, and that's it!
French press method
Step 1. In a teapot or soup pot, heat water until boiling. Add the tea mixture to a French press while waiting for the water to boil.
Step 2. Pouring the hot water into the tea mix inside the French press. Stir well until all the tea leaves are submerged. Stir the Thai black tea leaves using a wooden or serving spoon with a long handle. Set a timer for 8 minutes.
Step 3. Add sugar, salt, and sweetened condensed milk to a small pot, heat-safe, or a large glass bowl while waiting for the tea to steep. A thick wide bottom vase works well too.
Step 4. After 8 minutes, pour the tea from the French Press into the glass bowl with sugar and milk in it. Use a fine mesh strainer, tea sock, or cheesecloth to catch additional loose tea leaves. (the French press won't strain without some loose leaves escaping into the serving bowl.)
Step 5. Stir the hot tea well until the sugar and sweetened condensed milk is dissolved using a baking whisk or long wooden spoon. Use a large spatula to scrape the stubborn condensed milk on the bottom to get it to dissolve.
Step 6. Taste the delicious creamy orange goodness. Add a small amount of sugar, salt, or more condensed milk as needed to taste. Let sit for 30-45 minutes to cool, or put in the refrigerator for a few hours. Prepare a tall glass with crushed iced, and leave 1-2 inches at the top.
Step 7. Pour 1 cup of the finished Thai iced tea and top off with 1-2 tablespoons of evaporated milk. Stir well with a straw and taste the delicious and famous Thai drink filled with remarkable flavors in your mouth. Use the drink to help cool off your mouth when eating spicy Thai foods!
Enjoy your creamy tea drink!
Helpful kitchen notes and tips
- Store your leftover tea leaves in the freezer in an airtight glass jar for longer keeping.
- Store tea in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a glass container to save the iced tea for a later drink. (More like the next day?!) Lol
- For an adult beverage version, add 1-2 ounces of Kahlua, Irish bay, or creamy liquor to a fun cocktail. Enjoy!
Helpful tools for making Thai iced tea
These are helpful tools for making traditional Thai iced tea at home.
- For a Vegan Thai iced tea version, use plant-based milk, like coconut cream or milk, almond, cashew, oat, or hemp milk.
- Use tapioca pearls to make Thai bubble tea for added textures and fun!
More delicious drinks you may enjoy
Enjoy these Thai and Asian ingredient-inspired drinks and cocktails. Some of them you'll see on the streets of Thailand, while others are my twist to classic drinks using exotic Thai ingredients to infuse flavors and aroma!
- Butterfly flower lemonade
- Thai Tom Yum cocktail
- Creamy coconut lime mojitos
- Blood orange with Seville orange gin
- Roku gin with orange blossom syrup
Frequently Asked Questions
A note about Thai loose-leaf tea mixture: Thai tea is known for its' bright orange color. Orange food coloring is a food dye mixed with other artificial ingredients to make Thai tea colorful.
This sweet iced tea is made from black leaves and fragrant spices like cardamom, star anise, and low-grade tamarind powder. with yellow food coloring giving it the signature orange color the tea it's known for.
Thai iced tea and regular iced tea are different. Thai tea is made with strong black tea, usually with Pantai Thai tea mix brand, then it's sweetened with sugar and sweetened condensed milk, making it a bright, creamy drink. Regular iced tea is also brewed tea leaves or tea bags mixed with water, and flavors and sweeteners can be added to the iced drink.
Thai iced tea is made with brewed black tea mixed with sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk, making the milk mixture extra sweet and creamy. Thai milk tea is also made from black tea mixed with milk, but it doesn't have the color Thai iced tea is known for.
The sweet flavor of Thai tea is from sugar and condensed milk added to heighten the taste.