Say goodbye to trendy and unhealthy freak shakes, boba tea, and Starbucks’ Crystal Ball Frappuccino. Because the next trendy drink is a relatively healthier option and is a drink that can be good for you. From the streets of Thailand and making its way to the west, say hello to Thai Tea.
What Is Thai Tea?
As the name goes, Thai tea originated from Thailand, but it’s also popular in different areas in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, it’s served in restaurants and on the streets as “cha yen,” or literally “cold tea.” In the United States, you’ll find Thai restaurants selling Thai tea as a refreshing drink served either hot or cold. However, if you find the ingredients for it, you can make it yourself in the comfort of your own home.
Ingredients of Thai Tea
Authentic Thai tea can either be made from Ceylon Tea, a strong and bold black tea, or Bai Miang, a modified version of black Assam tea found in the northern area of India. Other Thai tea mixes may also have crushed spices like orange blossom water, crushed seeds, food coloring, and more.
The tea is brewed as strongly as possible and mixed with sugar and condensed milk. For a creamier tea, you can add evaporated, coconut, or whole milk (or skimmed, non-fat, and other kinds of milk). You can either have it served chilled, with ice or hot.
In restaurants, it is traditionally served in tall glasses, while in street stalls, it is served in cups or a plastic bag filled with ice and served with a straw. Newer innovations include Thai tea frappes or Thai tea served with tapioca pearls similar to the way boba tea is served.
Cold vs. Hot Thai Tea
The procedure of making Thai Tea involves boiling the tea and water to brew the tea and, if desired, adding in the sugar. After boiling, you’ll have to strain the tea to remove the tea leaves. If you want your Thai tea to be strong, you’ll want to serve it immediately after brewing.
To serve it cold, simply pour your strained tea over a glass filled to the top with ice. Don’t be worried about adding too much ice, since the hot tea will melt most of the ice on top and make more room for your tea while cooling off the mixture. You can drink cold Thai Tea on its own, with or without milk or sugar. You can also add lime, sugar, and mint to dark iced Thai tea for a cooler lime flavor.
For hot Thai tea, serve it in a mug or in a cup that can contain hot liquids. You can add sugar and or milk, but you can also opt to drink it plain.
Health Benefits of Thai Tea
An average serving of Thai tea has between 180 to 300 calories. However, these calories come from the milk and sugar; without these, Thai tea is has almost no calories. While it’s not the healthiest drink in the world (it’s still water, regardless of what other so-called health experts claim), the tea ingredients of a regular Thai tea mix provide multiple health benefits.
Black Ceylon tea contains antioxidants, which can help with weight loss through your metabolism. Their caffeine content can help increase energy levels while helping you calm down and sleep at night, which is good if your life is spiraling out of control and you need a good night’s sleep later in the day. It’s also good for your heart, kidneys, bones, and skin, and can help regulate blood sugar levels.
Some Thai Tea mixes can come with other spices mixed in, which provide their own health benefits. For example, star anise can help with coughing, indigestion, and bloating. Crushed tamarind seeds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And orange blossom water can help hydrate your skin and reduce menstrual pain. Be sure to read the ingredients of your tea mix to see what’s in it. You’ll want one that’s organic and with fewer preservatives. Also, try to see how much of each ingredient is in the mix, as small amounts of a certain ingredient may not give you any of its positive effects.
While sugar and certain types of milk are known to be full of fat and are generally seen as unhealthy, as long as you keep it in moderate amounts, it should provide you with some health benefits. For example, sugar can boost your mood, give you a quick energy boost, and can improve cognitive function. Milk, on the other hand, provides protein, calcium, and potassium, which can be useful for your body’s daily functions.
However, this shouldn’t be an excuse for you to drink Thai tea every day. While it is delicious, you should drink this in moderation and not use it as a substitute for your daily fluid intake. In moderation, Thai Tea may provide some health benefits. But drink too much, and it’s possible you might be doing more harm to your body than good.
Thai Tea Recipe
Making Thai Tea at home is simple. First, you start with the Thai Tea mix (or, if you want to give it your own take, create your own black tea brew) by boiling it in water. If you want, add sugar for a sweeter brew. Strain your mixture to get rid of the tea leaves, then pour it over a tall glass filled with ice. Add condensed milk or any type of milk according to your preference. Serve and consume immediately.
You can make larger batches of Thai Tea by upping the amount. After straining the tea, pour the tea into a pitcher. Let the tea cool down before placing it in the fridge to chill. To serve, simply pour some tea in a glass and add milk. It won’t taste as fresh compared to when you serve it immediately after steeping, but it’s still good and the more practical option if you want Thai tea throughout the day.
The good thing about Thai Tea recipes is that you can adjust the recipe to your taste. If you want stronger tea, add more tea leaves or let it brew for longer. Add more or less sugar to your taste. Add different types of milk that go well according to your diet or preference.
Thai tea is the latest craze in popular drinks. While it’s not as healthy as your regular clean water, its tea ingredients provide more health benefits than sugar-filled drinks in the market. And the good thing about Thai tea is that, if you don’t like the brew sold in Thai stores near you, you can try to make your own.