Traditional Thai Tea Recipe: A Deep Dive Into This Exotic Beverage

Thai Tea

Thai tea, also known as “Cha-Yen” in Thailand, is a popular drink originating from the hot streets of Thailand. This mysterious brew has become a world phenomenon thanks to its unique taste and fascinating history. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about this exotic drink, including its origins, variations, health benefits, and how you can make it yourself at home with our traditional Thai Tea recipe.


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What Is Thai Tea?

Thai tea is a popular drink that mainly consists of strongly brewed black tea. It is known for its distinctive orange color and sweet, spicy flavor that comes from the addition of various spices and sugar. Many people enjoy it with the addition of sweetened condensed milk, which gives it a creamy texture and an additional sweetness.

The origin of Thai Tea

Although it is unclear who invented Thai tea and where it comes from, many believe that it originated from the Chinese tea culture that came to Thailand in the 1940s. During this time, the Communist Party took over China, causing many Chinese to flee to Thailand. Since then, the Chinese tea culture has had a major impact on Thailand’s gastronomy.

The Art of Brewing Thai Tea

One of the most fascinating aspects of Thai tea is the brewing process. In Thailand, street vendors are known to “pull” the tea, which means pouring it back and forth between two vessels five times to mix the ingredients. This process, which often involves acrobatic movements and dancing, is part of the experience and usually attracts large audiences.

Types of Thai Tea

There are several different varieties of Thai tea, including Thai iced tea (cha yen) and Thai milk tea (cha dum yen). Both varieties have a base of black tea flavored with spices and sugar. Milk is added to create Thai milk tea. In addition, there are several creative varieties of Thai tea, such as boba (bubble) tea, smoothie, frappé and even alcoholic cocktails.

What Is Thai Tea Made Of?

Modern Thai tea is often made from a commercial tea blend containing black tea (usually Assam or Ceylon), spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise, as well as sugar and orange coloring. To make it a milk tea, condensed and evaporated milk is added.

Why Is Thai Tea Orange?

The characteristic orange color of Thai tea comes from food coloring added to the tea mixture. A traditionally brewed Thai tea can also get its color from sugar syrup or orange food coloring.

Does Thai Tea Contain Caffeine?

Yes, Thai tea contains caffeine because it contains black tea. Exactly how much caffeine it contains can vary depending on how it’s prepared.

Is It Okay to Drink Thai Tea Every Day?

As with all foods and beverages, it is important to consume Thai tea in moderation, especially if you have a medical condition, take medications, are diabetic, sensitive to spices, or lactose intolerant.

Benefits of Thai Tea

The health benefits that can be obtained from drinking Thai tea come mainly from the black tea. However, it is important to note that the high content of calories, carbohydrates and sugar can counteract these benefits.

How to make Thai tea from scratch?

Making Thai tea from scratch is not difficult and gives you full control over the ingredients. This means you can make a Thai tea that is free of artificial flavors, colors and high sugar levels.

Thai Tea basic recipe

Here is a basic recipe for Thai iced tea without milk. If you want to make it into a milk tea, we’ve included some extra steps at the end of the recipe.


  • 3 tablespoons loose Assam black tea
  • 3 ¼ cups water
  • Ice
  • 1” piece of vanilla pod
  • A few drops of orange food coloring
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole star anise
  • ¼ teaspoon whole cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar


  1. Cut the vanilla pod open and scrape out the inside; put it in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine water, vanilla bean scraps, cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamom in a saucepan. Cook.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Put the loose Assam tea into a tea infuser.
  5. Submerge the tea infuser in the hot water.
  6. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the cap and tea infuser.
  8. Strain the spices and discard them.
  9. Add sugar to the tea mixture and stir.
  10. Fill a large glass with ice.
  11. Pour the tea over the ice.
  12. Enjoy!

For Milk Tea

You need:

  • Condensed milk
  • Evaporated milk
  • 2 small mugs

Follow steps 1-9. Pour the tea mixture into a small jug. Add 2 teaspoons of condensed milk to the tea mixture. Add 2 teaspoons of evaporated milk to the tea mixture. Pour the milk tea mixture into a small jug. Use the other small pot to now brew the tea. This is done by pouring the tea into the second pot and then back into the original pot. You will repeat this five times. Tip: The correct way to brew tea is to pour high and finish low. This movement encourages shakiness. After steeping the tea, pour the tea into a glass full of ice. Top off the tea with a splash of evaporated milk. Add a straw and enjoy!

A Definitive Mumma!

Bring Thailand to you and try the art of brewing your own Thai tea in your own kitchen. This tea is so good it might make your toes curl!


Tips for Making Thai Tea

If you want to make Thai tea dairy-free, you can enjoy Thai tea on its own without the extra creaminess of condensed milk. If you want to recreate the creaminess of classic Thai tea, try using coconut milk for that subtly sweet creaminess. If you use oat, almond, soy, or other alternative milks, you may want to add a sweetener.

What Is The Best Kind Of Tea To Use?

ChaTraMue - Thai Tea Mix

Pantai Thai tea blend is the best way to make classic Thai tea at home. It contains a blend of black tea, cardamom, vanilla bean, tamarind, cinnamon and cloves. If you can’t find this tea blend, use black tea and add some cardamom pods, cloves, a splash of vanilla extract, and a cinnamon stick.

How Can You Adjust the Sweetness of Thai Tea?

Thai tea is usually sweetened by adding condensed milk. The natural sugar from the milk adds sweetness, but if you want to tone down the sweetness, add unsweetened condensed milk or a less sweet milk such as half-and-half or whole milk. Then add small amounts of sugar as you taste.

Benefits of Thai Tea

It’s no understatement that people all over the world have been drinking tea for millennia – tea has tons of health benefits. Thai tea, in particular, is good for body and soul.

  • Increased energy and focus: Black tea contains caffeine, making it the perfect drink for work and study. The caffeine and antioxidants in Thai tea help boost your metabolism, so when you exercise, it can help you burn calories faster. Just make sure you still drink plenty of water!
  • Healthy arteries: Drinking black tea expands your arteries, allowing them to pump blood more efficiently throughout your body. This can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Reduced risk of cancer: Some studies have shown that drinking tea reduces the risk of many types of cancer. This is because black tea is full of antioxidants, which protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.
  • Relieve stress: Tea helps calm the body and mind. So, sit back, relax and drink some Thai tea – hot or iced – for instant happiness.

Some of our sources:

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Frequently asked questions

Can I drink Thai tea every day?

Yes, it is okay to drink Thai tea every day if you do not have any health problems that could be affected by the intake. But it’s important to remember that Thai tea can be high in sugar and caffeine, so it’s best to drink it in moderation.

What are the health benefits of drinking Thai tea?

Some of the main health benefits of drinking Thai tea include increased energy and focus, healthy arteries, reduced risk of cancer, and stress relief.

Can I use another type of tea instead of black tea?

Yes, you can use other types of tea such as green tea or herbal tea, but it will change the taste of your Thai tea. Black tea is the traditional base for Thai tea because of its strong, robust flavor.

Is it difficult to make Thai tea at home?

No, it’s actually quite easy to make Thai tea at home. All you need are a few ingredients, including Thai tea blend, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. With these ingredients, a little time and the right recipe, you can enjoy a cup of authentic Thai tea at home.

Thai Tea

Thai Tea

The tea is sweetened with sugar and condensed milk and served ice cold
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 pers
Calories 263 kcal


Tea Base

  • 1,8 dl Thai Tea Mix Cha Tra Mue
  • 1 L Water (cooking hood)
  • 1 krm Salt
  • 1 tsp Sugar (to taste)
  • 1 st Cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1 st Whole cardamom (optional)
  • 0,25 st Vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1 tsp Ground Turmeric (optional)

Tea Serving

  • 2 dl Tea base (see recipe above)
  • 2 msk Condensed flour (to taste)
  • 3 msk Evaporated milk (to taste)


Tea base

  • Steep the tea leaves in hot boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh sieve. If you have a french press, put it in the french press and make the straining process easier!
    1,8 dl Thai Tea Mix, 1 L Water
  • Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Let cool to room temperature before making tea so it doesn’t dissolve the ice too much. You can now store this base in the fridge, it will last for at least a couple of weeks.
    1 krm Salt, 1 tsp Sugar, 1 st Cinnamon stick, 1 st Whole cardamom, 0,25 st Vanilla bean, 1 tsp Ground Turmeric

For Thai Tea

  • Pour the Thai tea base into a mixing glass and stir in the condensed milk until dissolved. If the tea base is chilled, it helps to microwave it briefly and bring it to room temperature so that the condensed milk dissolves more easily.
    2 dl Tea base, 2 msk Condensed flour
  • Pack a serving glass full of ice, then pour the tea on top. Drizzle over the evaporated milk and enjoy!
    3 msk Evaporated milk


According to the January 2017 study in Food Science & Nutrition, a 0.45L serving of Thai milk tea has 263 calories and 38 grams of sugar.

Condensed milk vs evaporated milk


Calories: 263kcal
Keyword Cool, Lactose, Summer, Sweet, Tea
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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