Tea is the world’s second most consumed beverage after water and is popular in almost every country on Earth. Made from the leaves of a plant called Camellia sinensis, which is native to East Asia and invented by the Chinese, tea is now grown all around the world.
As we have seen in our previous articles on tea, the process of turning the tea leaves into a tea powder includes boiling down to oxidation. However, the duration of oxidising the leaves is what creates the tea varieties.
Black tea is the most famous and most consumed tea type. It is the darkest, sweetest, and the one used in almost all other blended tea drinks, whether hot or iced.
In India, for instance, masala tea, the country’s national drink, is made by combining tea, milk, and a unique mixture of spices typically known as masala, green cardamom, and ginger make up the base of masala.
While ‘savoury’ tea might sound odd to some, trying a cup of masala tea is quite a worthwhile experience. Thanks to its strong, rich, and spicy flavour that is blended with creaminess and sweetness, masala tea will make your taste buds dance. So, if there is any Indian restaurant nearby, they most probably serve Masala tea, so consider giving it a try.
Another country that has a special spiced tea drink is Thailand. While Thai tea is a mixture of tea, milk, and spices, it is entirely different from its Indian opponent in terms of the types of tea and milk used, as well as the spice mixture, the way tea is served, and even its colour.
Thai tea is distinct for its bright orange colour, rich, creamy, spicy taste, and thick texture. It is made using a special kind of black tea grown and produced in Thailand called Ceylon tea.
Strongly brewed Ceylon tea is used to make Thai tea. It is blended with whole milk and sweetened with either sugar or honey. Then that mixture is, again, combined with condensed milk to provide extra sweetness and spiced with cardamom, tamarind, star anise, and turmeric to give it a distinctive orange colour.
Interestingly, it is said that chefs in the past added turmeric to the tea to turn it orange and fascinate people to try it. Nowadays, many restaurants use artificial colouring to make the tea more fascinatingly orange!
The way Thai tea is served in restaurants and street tea stalls is also very distinct. Usually, the condensed milk is added to the bottom of the cup and topped with the orange blend of the rest of the ingredients. This creates beautiful, eye-striking layers.
The original Thai tea recipe uses dairy milk. Yet, people can adjust it according to their own preferences. For instance, vegans can still enjoy Thai tea by substituting dairy milk with any other non-dairy type, such as almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk.
These milk types will work, too, yet they will not give the tea the same richness and creaminess as dairy milk. But if someone is to choose, it is better to go with coconut milk since it is more flavoured and has a tropical taste.
How to Make Thai Tea
Making Thai tea at home can never be easier. The only thing you need to do beforehand is to check your options. See if Ceylon tea is accessible for you or whether or not the spiced Thai tea powder is easier to get from a nearby supermarket or online.
If you end up using regular black tea, you will still need to prepare the spice mix at home. For that, you will need turmeric to give your tea the distinct orange colour, anise, ground cardamom, and cinnamon.
You can still play a little with the spices and exchange some for others. Some people like to add cloves or nutmeg, which give the tea an even stronger taste.
Condensed milk is the only indispensable ingredient in this recipe. And in this recipe, we will use regular black tea and some evaporated milk to add on top. You will also learn how to make hot and cold versions of Thai tea. So, follow along.
And There You Have it…
This article discussed Thailand‘s most famous spiced tea, Thai tea. Though it might sound a little similar to India’s Masala tea, Thai tea is quite distinct for using Ceylon tea, condensed milk, and a unique spice mix which gives it a distinctive bright orange colour.
Then, we looked into some ingredient alternatives that allow the making of Thai tea without being limited to the original ones. After that, we demonstrated the recipes for making hot and iced Thai tea and two western varieties, the Thai tea frappe and Thai tea latte.