The Perfect Thai Iced Tea in 5 Simple Steps
Thai restaurant go-ers know this beverage well. This deliciously sweet layered orange refreshment has a striking presentation and is very adaptable for different sweetener or milk preferences. Be aware that Thai tea is very strong, very sweet, and very addictive! We’ll list ingredients for three different serving sizes, details on equipment, how to select Thai tea leaves, serving suggestions, and substitution suggestions for non-dairy and vegan needs. Making iced tea isn’t the only thing you can do with the Thai tea concentrate you’ll have from this recipe; you can use that concentrate for flavoring a variety of treats like Thai tea ice cream or Thai tea crème brûlée!
Step 1: Cookware
- Large pot that can hold the water and Thai tea leaves. It will be helpful if it is larger than it is wide if you’re using a long & narrow tea sock, and a spout is also helpful for when you pour it into a pitcher.
- Fine mesh sieve, or preferably a tea sock (a large one), or muslin. If you’re going with a fine mesh sieve, it needs to be VERY fine as the tea has partially a powder-like consistency. I usually use a tea sock or line a mesh sieve or normal colander with muslin. If you’re using the concentrate to flavor creme brulee or ice cream, having some of the powder still in it might be appealing. If you just use a mesh strainer, that should be enough to ensure you’ll retain some of the dark black granules.
- Heat-resistant pitcher (you will be pouring hot things in it!) that can hold the tea concentrate
- Something to stir with (a sauce whisk like the one pictured below is preferable; it gets the sugar to dissolve rapidly and is also great for making Jell-O!)
Step 2: Ingredients
This section is broken up into three different yields: 1, 6, and 12 glasses of Thai iced tea. Feel free to math out for the in-between and extreme portions! It keeps well in the fridge so I tend to make a lot at once. Just make sure your containers can hold everything.
For approximately 6 glasses of Thai iced tea:
- 2 cups Thai tea leaves*
- 5 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 1/2 cups evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed!), approximately 3 12 oz cans**
For approximately 12 glasses of Thai iced tea:
- 4 cups Thai tea leaves*
- 10 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 9 cups evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed), around 6 12 oz cans**
For one glass of Thai iced tea:
- 1/3 cup Thai tea leaves*
- 1/2 + 1/3 cups water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cups evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed), about a 6 oz can**
*Thai tea leaves can be annoying to buy when you haven’t done it before. You can find them in most local Asian grocery stores, or on the internet. They typically come in a sealed plastic package and are labeled as Thai tea mix, powder, or dust. Two different kinds are featured in the picture above; here are their listed ingredients:
Note that the above ingredient list doesn’t seem accurate to me given the taste is distinctly that of Thai tea, which is a spiced black tea colored with annatto or artificial color. I was worried when I got it in the mail and saw green tea listed with no spices, but upon trying it was relieved.
And the ingredient list for the clear bag pictured in a zip-lock (my preferred type):
The tea itself looks like this:
**Half-and-half is used just as commonly, so feel free to substitute with that. Additionally, you can substitute evaporated milk with soy milk (preferably unsweetened as the tea is sweetened) or even coconut milk to make this a non-dairy/vegan drink! Or for non-dairy needs, adding lactase to the evaporated milk/half-and-half could be another option. It’s flexible and up to your preference; just remember that the tea concentrate itself is sweetened, so don’t use sweetened items like sweetened condensed milk unless you omit the sugar from the tea concentrate or if you happen to REALLY like sugar and don’t fear the beetus.