Visitors to Thailand know how refreshing and delicious their version of the iced tea is. As opposed to the American versions, it is made of tea, sugar, and milk. You can always enjoy this popular drink at home because not only are the list of ingredients short but making it is also very easy and requires very little effort.
Even if you have never been to Thailand, chances are you have seen this creamy and sweet tea that is orange in color when dining in Thai restaurants. This drink is not just the perfect pair to Thai dishes, but it is also refreshing and perfect for those warm summer days.
The Difference Between Thai Iced Tea And Western Iced Tea
Thai tea also originated from China, though it is a relatively new addition to the cuisine, being brought over only around the 1980s. Tea in the United States also has the same roots, although there are crucial differences between the two versions.
When you drink Iced tea in Western countries, this is normally plain and regular black tea, with sugar added to make it sweet. On the other hand, Thailand’s version has more spices to make the taste unique. It has some cloves or cardamom and star anise so that it has a bit of a spiced aroma.
Once the tea is prepared, it is sweetened with sugar before milk is added. In some versions, sweetened condensed milk is added to provide the sweetness and to create the orange shade it is known for. Interestingly, in the early days of Thai tea in Western cultures, chefs only added orange food coloring to achieve the orange color. But for the real thing, it is best (and quite easy as well!) to do it yourself at home.
What Ingredients Do You Need?
To make it easier for the consumer, there are pre-made tea mixes available so that there is no need to prepare the tea with the added spices. However, it might not be as easy to find the Thai tea mix so it is also a great idea to know how to make it from scratch.
To make your own, these are the ingredients you need. First, 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf black tea. You should opt for strong ones like Assam, Ceylon or Keemun. Then you need 1 piece of star anise and 2 pods of cardamom or 3 garlic cloves. You might also add half a cinnamon stick, 1/8 of a vanilla bean, ground tamarind, or ¼ tsp almond extract. The key is to try out your own mix to find the taste you like. Some versions use cardamom while others opt for cloves. Some may also suggest more star anise, but because it is a strong spice, it is good to start with just 1 piece.
Beyond the tea mix, you will need boiling water, sugar and milk. You can also opt for sweetened condensed milk but it might be too sweet for those who are not accustomed to it. It is best to add sugar and milk slowly and try it out to avoid making it too sweet. You will also add ice cubes so you can expect the taste and sweetness to lessen as the ice cubes melt.
Steps To Prepare Your Thai Iced Tea
Once you have all the ingredients, you can create your own homemade Thai Iced tea.
Bring 2 to 2 ½ cups of water to a boil and then add your tea mix or black tea with spices. Cover the container and leave it to sit for about 20 minutes. If using sugar, add it at this stage as well. Although some people believe that steeping the tea for more than 5 minutes makes it bitter, it is recommended for Thai tea as you will sweeten it afterward.
Strain the tea using a fine mesh strainer and leave it to cool. Take a glass and fill it with ice cubes or crushed ice and fill it with tea until maximum two-thirds full. Add your milk or condensed milk. Stir the drink and enjoy your homemade Thai Iced Tea!
Vegans can still enjoy their Thai Iced tea, replacing the condensed milk with cream of coconut and coconut milk. Coffee lovers may also use a coffee base instead of tea.