As we approach the heat of the spring season in Charlottesville, I am brought back to an iced drink that never fails to quench my craving for a refreshing sweet beverage — Thai tea.
Thai tea is a relatively new drink, as tea itself was only imported from China into Taiwan in the 1980s as a cash crop. While it is unknown when Thai tea exactly started, it became a staple in street markets, vendors and restaurants all across Thailand. Even now, it is still an essential at almost every Thai restaurant in the U.S.
Growing up in Northern Virginia, where there are a plethora of Thai restaurants, I had the opportunity to experience exquisite Thai cuisine and, of course, develop my love of Thai tea that was always ordered with the food.
My love for Thai tea was reignited here in Charlottesville when I ordered the sweet drink from the Got Dumplings food truck. I can recall sipping on the deliciously sweet and creamy drink in the amphitheater as it instantly brightened the rest of my day. If you make your way to the end of Jefferson Park Avenue to Silk Thai, they serve a delectable Thai tea that is prepared in a large glass and topped with whipped cream, making it more like a dessert than a normal iced drink.
While this may be my favorite drink, the cost of buying it almost everyday — to satiate my obsession of course — can add up quickly. Knowing I shouldn’t spend that much, but also knowing I couldn’t forgo drinking Thai tea, I decided to learn how to make it at home.
Thai tea mix first starts off with the black tea base and contains added spices and edible food dye that gives it that vibrant orange color. If you are wary of consuming food coloring, I advise you to not buy Thai tea mix, but rather buy black tea and add the spices yourself at any local grocery store.
Cook time: 40-50 minutes
Yields: 1 drink or 8-10 ounces
- 3-4 bags or 1 cup of Thai tea mix
- ¾ cup condensed milk — or your choosing of sweetener such as sugar, agave nectar or honey
- ½ cup of half and half — or your choosing of a creamer such as oat milk or whole milk
- 4 cups of water
- 3-4 cubes of ice
- Bring your water to a boil.
- Add your Thai tea bags. Adding more bags will make the tea stronger, while less bags will produce a more diluted beverage.
- Allow the tea to steep in the water on a low simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer you allow the tea to steep, the stronger the flavor will be.
- After steeping, remove the tea bags.
- Allow the leftover liquid to cool for about 20 minutes, or pop it in the freezer for about 10 minutes to cool it faster.
- Fill your chosen glass with ice.
- Add in your Thai tea, leaving enough room for your creamer.
- Pour in your creamer.
- Lastly, add in your condensed milk and give it a nice stir. The orange liquid should turn into a nice, creamy color.
This easy recipe allows you to enjoy this delicious drink without doing major damage to your college student bank. Now, enjoy your iced Thai tea in between classes, sitting on the lawn, in the comfort of your own home or on the go.