Asian Recipes/ Drinks/ Recipes

Easy Thai Iced Tea – Cha Yen

18/01/2024

Dive into a fresh glass of Thai iced tea – a super popular, bright orange tea drink sweetened with condensed milk on ice. Every sip will take you straight back to your Thailand adventures, guaranteed to cool you down, and perk you up!

A jug pours orange Thai iced tea into a glass filled with ice.

Why We Love This

Thai iced tea is super refreshing and deliciously sweet. It’s our all time favourite treat when out and about in Thailand, we miss having it in bags, swinging off our scooter as we zoomed around the island of Ko Lanta and the beaches of Phuket!

Luckily, it’s so easy to make at home and the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.

Related: Teh Tarik (Malaysian Pulled Tea) / Pink Milk

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A glass filled to the brim with Thai iced tea.

What is Thai Iced Tea?

Thai iced tea (known in Thai as ชาเย็น or cha yen / cold tea), is a popular street food drink you can find almost anywhere in Thailand, especially at street stalls and night markets.

It’s traditionally made from strongly brewed Thai ceylon tea which is steeped in hot water then strained through a cotton tea filter known as a ‘tea sock’. (But at home, it’s often easier to use a coffee plunger / French press to brew the tea instead).

The tea is then mixed with condensed milk, evaporated or whole milk and/or sugar while still hot, then poured over ice. 

Thai tea has a distinctively creamy orange-brown colour which comes from yellow dye in the Thai tea mix. Depending on where you get it from, it might be served in a regular plastic takeaway cup or a plastic bag tied up with a rubber band!

Here’s Sarah getting one of the biggest cups of Thai iced tea we ever had in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

What You’ll Need

  • Thai Iced Tea Mix – For the best Thai flavour it’s best to use Cha Tra Mue (ชาตรามือ) Thai tea mix, also known as Number One Brand. This is what most street vendors use in Thailand! Look for the iconic “Original” tea mix (white and red packaging) at Asian grocery stores or buy it online. Note this brand also has a green tea version (white and green packaging) but this is not commonly used for Thai iced tea. Can’t source it? Just use regular black tea. 
  • Condensed Milk – Usually labelled as sweetened condensed milk. This is the key ingredient which adds sweetness while giving the tea its classic thick and creamy texture. Sub with condensed coconut milk for a dairy free / vegan version, but note this will change the flavour. 
  • Milk – You can use whole milk or evaporated milk for this recipe, or swap for your favourite plant based milk if you prefer to make this dairy free / vegan.
Ingredients laid out to make Thai iced tea.

How to Make Recipe

First, gather your ingredients: See recipe card below for measurements.

Hot brew method

  1. Pour Thai tea mix into a French coffee press and add the boiling water.
  2. Cover with the plunger to the top of the water line and allow it to steep for 10 minutes.
  3. Push the plunger down slowly to capture all the tea leaves.

Cold brew method

  1. Pop the Thai tea mix into your cold brew jug’s inner filter and fill with cold water (instead of boiling). Allow to steep for a minimum of 8 hours overnight in the fridge.

To serve the iced tea

  1. Pour steeped tea into a separate jug. Add your sweetened condensed milk and ¼ cup whole milk (or evaporated milk). Taste at this stage and add any extra condensed milk to sweeten to your liking.

[ Tea sweetness gauge ]
2 tbsp is low sweetness, 4 tbsp is medium sweetness, and 6 tbsp is for a very sweet tea.

  1. Fill two tall glasses with ice cubes to the top and pour over your tea mix. Top with optional extra ice, add a straw and enjoy!

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Tea Intensity – Longer brewing time = stronger flavour.  
  • Storage – It’ll last 4-5 days in the fridge, but best taste in the first 1-2 days.
  • Serving Suggestions – Goes well with most Thai dishes. We love it with Kana Moo Grob or a hot curry like Panang Chicken curry in particular!

FAQs

My tea is too bitter, what can I do?

If you find the hot brewed tea flavour to be too bitter, you can try cold brewing it instead to gain the strength of flavour without the bitterness.

What’s the difference between red, red gold and green Thai tea mixes?

The colours in Cha Tra Mue or Number One Brand packaging indicate what type of tea is used in the mix.

Red is the original tea mix made with ceylon tea.
Green is made with a mix of ‘butterfly pea’, jasmine, and Thai green tea leaves.
Gold label refers to their “Extra Gold” strength tea mix. If you want a stronger brew.

Do I have to use Thai tea mix?

For the most authentic flavour, we do recommend using the original Thai tea mix. But if you can’t source it, just use any brand of ceylon / black tea. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will be pretty close to the flavour you’re looking for. Feel free to experiment with different styles and flavours of tea to see what you like best

Variations

  • Serve Hot – Skip the ice and serve while hot and freshly brewed. 
  • Bubble Tea – Add brown sugar boba pearls and serve with a wide straw. 
  • Other Thai Flavours – Skip the milks for a dark iced tea, or add freshly squeezed lime or a sprig of fresh mint.
Ice floats on top of a glass filled with Thai cha yen.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

A frosty glass of Thai iced tea with ice cubes.

Easy Thai Iced Tea – Cha Yen

Dive into a fresh glass of Thai iced tea – a super popular, bright orange tea drink sweetened with condensed milk on ice. Every sip will take you straight back to your Thailand adventures, guaranteed to cool you down, and perk you up!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Steep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 2 Glasses
Calories: 83kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Thai tea mix 15 g / 0.5 oz, we use Cha Tra Mue Original Red Label, sub 3 black tea bags
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk 40 ml / 1.35 oz
  • ¼ cup whole milk 60 ml / 2 fl oz, sub evaporated milk, creamer or nut milk
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Instructions

Hot brew method

  • Pour 2 tbsp Thai tea mix into a French coffee press and add the boiling water.
  • Cover with the plunger to the top of the water line and allow it to steep for 10 minutes.
  • Push the plunger down slowly to capture all the tea leaves.

Cold brew method

  • Pop the 2 tbsp Thai tea mix into your cold brew jug’s inner filter and fill with cold water (instead of boiling). Allow to steep for a minimum of 8 hours overnight in the fridge.

To serve the iced tea

  • Pour steeped tea into a separate jug. Add your 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk and ¼ cup whole milk (or evaporated milk). Taste at this stage and add any extra condensed milk to sweeten to your liking.

Tea sweetness gauge

  • 2 tbsp is low sweetness, 4 tbsp is medium sweetness, and 6 tbsp is for a very sweet tea.
  • Fill two tall glasses with ice cubes to the top and pour over your tea mix. Top with optional extra ice, add a straw and enjoy!

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Tea Intensity – Longer brewing time = stronger flavour.  
  • Storage – It’ll last 4-5 days in the fridge, but best taste in the first 1-2 days.
  • Serving Suggestions – Goes well with most Thai dishes. We love it with Kana Moo Grob or a hot curry like Panang Chicken curry in particular!
  • Serve Hot – Skip the ice and serve while hot and freshly brewed. 
  • Bubble Tea – Add brown sugar boba pearls and serve with a wide straw. 
  • Other Thai Flavours – Skip the milks for a dark iced tea, or add freshly squeezed lime or a sprig of fresh mint.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy Thai Iced Tea – Cha Yen
Amount per Serving
Calories
83
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
3
g
5
%
Saturated Fat
 
2
g
13
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
10
mg
3
%
Sodium
 
61
mg
3
%
Potassium
 
120
mg
3
%
Carbohydrates
 
12
g
4
%
Sugar
 
12
g
13
%
Protein
 
3
g
6
%
Vitamin A
 
103
IU
2
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
109
mg
11
%
Iron
 
0.04
mg
0
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Easy Thai Iced Tea - Cha Yen

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