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
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.