Introduction: Thai Iced Tea

Picture of Thai Iced Tea

If you’ve ever been to a Thai restaurant, you know this delicious orange beverage. It is very strong, very sweet, and very good. It also has a great presentation, with its bright color and the layers formed by the milk. Here is my recipe for this tasty iced tea, which is the perfect complement to a hot day, or a hot dish. It is extremely close to what you get at Thai restaraunts, and if you make it with care, it's a bit better!

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment


  • 2/3 cup Thai tea leaves
  • 1 2/3 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (12oz can)


  • Big pot for boiling water
  • Big, fine strainer or seive, or a traditional tea sock, if you can find one at the asian market
  • Heat-resistant pitcher
  • Stirring implement (long spoon, piece of rebar, etc.)

These are the ingredients for 2 glasses of tea. Scale up if you desire. I often make a huge batch of the sweetened tea, save it in the fridge, and then break it out whenever I want, adding evaporated milk at the time of serving.

As far as ingredients go, the hardest to find item is the Thai tea leaves. Go to your local asian food store and look for “Thai Seasoning Mix” or “Thai Tea Dust”. It usually comes in a clear plastic brick-like bag, and looks like dark brown shredded tea leaves. The kind I have right now is called “Police Dog Brand Thai Tea Dust.” Evaporated milk can be substituted with soy or rice milk (I recommend Odwalla Milk, if you can get it, its a mixture of oat milk, rice milk, soy milk, and a little banana/mango puree) if you want to make it vegan. You can also substitute white sugar for evaporated cane juice or “raw sugar”.

If your water tastes bad out of the tap, it will make bad tea! Filter it, or use bottled water for the best results.

Step 2: Procedure

Bring your water to a boil in a pot with some head space. You'll need room for the tea leaves, you'll be using a lot. When the water begins to boil, remove the pot from the heat to stop the boiling, and then add the tea leaves to the pot, stirring to moisten them. Don't try to use a tea bag, or tea ball, or anything, we are using a LOT of tea, and we need it to steep fully.

Don't boil the tea! It will be bitter! Just let it sit in the hot water.

Set your timer for 4 minutes, and wait.

When your timer goes off, carefully strain the tea into your heat resistant pitcher through a sieve or tea sock. I've got a round seive that nestles well in the opening of my pitcher. I pour slowly, letting the sieve catch most of the tea leaves. As the sieve clogs up, I stop pouring, let the sieve drip for a minute, and then knock the tea leaves out of it into the compost.

When the tea is in the pitcher, add your sweetener, and stir to dissolve. You have to add the sweetener when the tea is hot, otherwise you'll never get it to dissolve fully.

Put the tea in the fridge for a few hours to cool it down. If you must have tea soon, you can use the ice to help cool it down, but it won't be as strong. This sweetened tea will save for a week or more in the fridge. I make big batches, and just save the full pitcher in the fridge for serving on demand.

Step 3: Serving

Picture of Serving

To serve the tea, fill a tall glass with ice, and pour the tea over the ice, leaving about 1/4 of the glass empty at the top. Open a can of evaporated whole milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk), and top the glass off with it. Pour slowly, so that the layers stay distinct. Serve with a straw or long spoon for mixing!

Some people like more milk than others, so you'll have to experiment a bit. Likewise, some people like to drink their tea with the layers intact, and others like to mix it up right away. Thats the fun of the drink! If you serve it with layers intact, then each person decides what they want to do. Personally, I mix it very gently, so that it still has some swirls of milkier and less milky tea, but isn't completely layered.


Rivkah (author)2016-10-26

I have had Thai tea infused with star anise and it's amazing!! Has anybody ever thought of using chai spices for flavoring? Just a thought.

HeatherE7 (author)2015-08-29

I use my french press to brew and its fantastic

sabu.dawdy (author)2014-10-10

can we make this without Thai tea?

jill jacks (author)2013-09-29

I made it with evaporated milk and then with coconut milk and 1/2 cup of sugar, yum! Thanks for posting!

caarntedd (author)2011-07-15

No alcohol?

vduong3 (author)caarntedd2013-09-16

I've made Adult Thai Iced tea with Orange Vodka, or if you don't have that available Vodka and Triple Sec, it's quite yummy!

caarntedd (author)vduong32013-09-18

Nice. I think I'll try that.

phidauex (author)caarntedd2011-07-15

What alcohol do you think would go well with it? Cointreau? Splash of bourbon?

caarntedd (author)phidauex2011-07-16

Looking at the ingredients I would say rum, specifically something like Bundeberg Red, or Captain Morgan Spiced Gold. They have a little vanilla in them. Very smooth.

dkamentsky (author)caarntedd2011-08-27

I actually made thia ice tea and replaced the creamer with irish creamer and it tasted fantastic

tysonbeck (author)2013-08-06

growing up we always use evaporated milk, condensed milk and coconut milk as an option. we don't have half and half or even whole milk and if we do not everyone can afford it. so that is authentic thai tea for us, black tea and the inclusion of other spices available to us.

Shiggity (author)2013-06-23

I tried this with 1/4 to 1/5 of the tea leaves that were ALREADY in the first attempt (!) and it tastes plenty strong. For fresh leaves, I'd imagine you could get away with using even less. Also, I'd use maybe 1/2 to 1/3 of the evaporated milk. 6 oz of evaporated milk is 6 servings -- 42% of the saturated fat suggested daily intake.

Shiggity (author)2013-06-16

I gave this a try and unfortunately it cracked the jar I poured it into. Apparently I need a more heat resistant jar. In my assessment though, this is way too much tea. Tea leaves can only saturate water so much before there isn't any water left for the tea molecules to intersperse with and what you wind up with is a huge waste of unsaturated tea. Moreover, because there's so much of it, it definitely does clog up the muslin, much of the water is absorbed and unless you are a tea extracting ninja or incredibly patient you end up with a yield of tea about 1/3 what you put in. I'd suggest 1/2 of that amount, maybe 1/4.

Aleator777 (author)2012-09-03

So delicious. Can't wait to make this myself! Thanks for posting :)

BLUEBLOBS2 (author)2012-05-12

I love tea. I'm in the Tea Junkies group, and I love this Instructable .
Super refreshing!

thokanson (author)2011-11-14

"piece of rebar" lmao!

rsgrsg (author)thokanson2011-12-28

OMG! I thought it was just me!

Nefitara (author)2011-12-16

It comes out a little better if you use condensed rather than evaporated, that's what also gives it that orange color and makes it a little thicker.

phidauex (author)Nefitara2011-12-19

You can used condensed milk instead of evaporated if you want, just don't use SWEETENED condensed milk, which is not what you want here.

The orange color does NOT come from the choice of milk, it comes from the tea leaf blend, either annatto or artificial coloring.

curiousgirl121 (author)2011-09-09

how many servings does it make?

goodkid1 (author)2011-07-15

For those of you having trouble with not enuff sweetness or gray color, don't use evaporated milk ......ewwwwww.....use the proper condensed milk. You could use a little Half-and -Half along with it,,,,,,, but no evaporated. Add any sugar you like, but I keep a strong homemade sugar syrup in my refridge all summer long cuz cold drinks won't dissolve regular sugar well. Makes a huge difference for lemonade, Rickeys, etc. I lived in Thailand off and on my whole life. Also, I have never used anything but a "Thai Tea Mix" (not a chrystal mix) that is brewed in a big "tea sock" (just a cloth sack with a handle) so I will not comment on tea leaves, but I have learned my recipe from the Bangkok street venders and restaurants. Emeril for his recipe too.

jbroderick (author)2011-06-18

Well, not quite like restaurants but closest recipe to it Ive tried. Other recipes I tried not even close. Then again, I used Thai Tea loose leaves, not powdered or ready mix, I guess that would make a difference? The color always comes out gray when I add milk instead of orange

phidauex (author)jbroderick2011-07-14

Most restaurants use the Thai Tea leaves with flavorings and artificial color. While still a loose leaf, it is still a manufactured "product". If you get the right thai tea mix, it will be exactly like you'd get at a restaurant (excepting the ones that make their own mixes).

NastHaiteA (author)2011-07-05

You can also buy that Thai Iced Tea powder in online stores like

bnell (author)2008-02-11

I could never get the tea to taste quite right. It was never a sweet as in the restaurants that I would visit. So on day I asked at on of the restaurants how they managed to get the Thai tea as sweet as they do. The chef was brought out. At first he seemed reluctant to share, but after some cajoling by the waitress, he told me to put the sugar in while the water was boiling. This way it fully dissolved. Then add the tea. Just a variation that one might try...

mysteryshrimp (author)bnell2010-07-30

If you make a simple syrup ahead of time, you don't have to worry about dissolving sugar ever again. 2 parts sugar 1 part water a little corn syrup will help curb crystallization. Bring to a boil, leave on heat until your syrup is crystal clear. Cool, put in plastic squirt bottle or glass syrup pour bottle. The table sugar (a disaccharide) will convert into a simpler monosaccharide and will always be pre-dissolved for cold (or hot) beverages.

speeed2001 (author)bnell2008-12-25

Yes, The sugar must be added while the tea still hot. All sugar must be dissolved.

Whaleman (author)bnell2008-07-10

I might try that for black tea as well.

ArJohn (author)bnell2008-06-27

I found that same thing while in Thailand. Sugar (sirup) added while boiling.

musical_gamer_girl (author)2010-05-10

Can you get thai tea leaves at an asian food market?  Are there any substitutes?

MadBricoleur (author)2010-05-08

i've never tried iced thai tea before... but my mom makes awesome thai bubble tea! Is there a noticeable difference in taste?

Whaleman (author)2007-08-17

I love Thai Tea, I used to go to a Chinese restaurant that served Thai Tea, but they changed ownership, so now their Thai Tea tastes like milk tea.

endolith (author)Whaleman2010-01-26

I asked for this at a Thai restaurant in China and they didn't have a clue what I was talking about.  :)

druderman (author)2007-05-28

I've made this at home before, but never quite had the procedure down. Thanks. A warning though. This tea is very ORANGE. God knows what is in it. Proably something bad, since it tastes and smells so good. But I digress. The warning is that the tea and even a few flakes of the tea will stain, so try to be tidy or at least try to do your decanting over a sink.

bartax (author)druderman2008-02-06

Yellow food coloring--according to the ingredients on my bag.

druderman (author)bartax2010-01-24

I bet something like Thai Tea ice-cream would be great. You heard it hear first. Maybe I'll even make it. Heat milk & Tea togther. Strain. Then use as regular ingredient in your ice-cream process.

meskarune (author)druderman2010-01-18

The orange color comes from anatto. Its a pretty unique spice in terms of flavor. Anatto is also used in orange cheese. Most thai tea blends are black tea with tamerind, organge blossoms and anatto. Probably some other spices as well.

I think if one where to search enough, you could find recipes to make your own thai tea blend with black tea and flavorings...

jtlax (author)2008-08-07

i went to one resturant that added tapioka balls to the tea

stickmop (author)jtlax2009-09-05

My favorite Thai place adds tapioca balls to their Thai Iced Tea. Unless I forget, I just ask them to leave them out. Not fond of the consistency.

PawnDrifter (author)2007-05-21

You said "over-spiced curry". I don't think that makes any sense. Hmmmm., time for field investigations. Thanks for the recipe. Can't wait to try it. I agree that the next best choice other than WHOLE milk is probably coconut milk. Just be sure not to stand directly behind the coconuts when you are milking them. They kick like a mule!

Ward_Nox (author)PawnDrifter2009-08-29

currycomes in many colors and heat levels

yeah true. the reason you never hear about people being kicked by a coconut is that they never live to tell about it.

ha ha ha ha.. it is so true

Ward_Nox (author)2009-08-29

I'm 99% sure the Thai place near me uses coconut milk

roboraptor49 (author)2009-08-15

My mother made thus for me after we got some of the tea. but it turns out when she finished making she put the milk in it, the next day she told me " i presidential used sour milk in your tea" then i said....."ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwweyyy!!!!!!!!"

limespider (author)2009-07-08

I love thai ice-tea! Condensed milk. I use to work at a Thai restaurant. Could not remember the actual tea used, but I know we used condensed milk. I have seen cheaper restaurants use half and half. For ages I thought they used Jasmine tea. Now I know it is special Thai tea! Thanks I must also say, evaporated milk has a unique very delicious flavor when used in sweet recipes!

James (pseudo-geek) (author)2008-03-16

I just saw this Instructable for the 5th time and I'm about to start drooling. where can I buy the tea leaves?

Here! you can order the Thai tea leaf from I found the tea quality is superior than other brand. Don't buy their tea bag. The tea bag is not strong. The tea powder is super good.

Whaleman (author)2008-08-05

The tea was still orange, it just didn't taste like Thai tea. How is that better quality?

speeed2001 (author)Whaleman2008-10-02

Hi Mykhailo I am sorry, I assumed that the restaurant used premium Thai tea leaf that contains no orange color. Most good Thai restaurants serve their customers with better quality Thai tea leaf now. But I was wrong about this restaurant. I am not associated or related to the owner of the restaurant you visitted anyway and I am not tried to defended them. However, one thing I can tell you for sure is that most Thai restaurants boils their tea. All teas, Thai tea leaf is included,has two aroma profiles, volatile and non-volatile. The volatile aroma is heat sensitive and it evaporated when contact heat resulting in less flavor in the tea. If you taste good quality tea that has full body, the aroma stay much longer. Regular Thai iced tea is made from poorer quality tea leaf. Please don't get me wrong, I am not a tea expert. I happened to be a native of Thailand and grown up with Thai tea. Good luck to you next time.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an engineer in the renewable energy world, and help run a cooperative workshop makerspace in Boulder, CO called the Phoenix Asylum.
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