Thai Iced Tea

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Introduction: Thai Iced Tea

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

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

Ingredients

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

Equipment

  • 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.

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    110 Comments

    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.

    I use my french press to brew and its fantastic

    can we make this without Thai tea?

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

    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!

    Nice. I think I'll try that.

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

    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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

    I love tea. I'm in the Tea Junkies group, and I love this Instructable .
    Super refreshing!
    -BLUEBLOBS2

    OMG! I thought it was just me!

    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.

    1 reply

    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.