Thai Iced Tea

Sorry for yet another repost, folks.  Things are getting busy in the not so big blue house and I don't anticipate them getting any better before the holidays are over.  So without further adieu, here is a slightly edited repost of Thai iced tea that Jeff put together in February 2009.

One of my favorite drinks to get at a Thai restaurant is the Thai iced tea. It's the perfect drink for a hot summer day and it complements the food nicely. The one bad thing is the only place you can get a good glass of it is at a Thai restaurant or maybe at a Bubble Tea stand. For quite some time now I've been searching for a method of brewing and assembling the drink at home. I'm glad to say my search has been successful.

First things first. Thai tea is a black tea with flavors from star anise and tamarind. I've never actually had the tea alone so I cannot tell you what it tastes like. I might try that at a later date. The iced tea drink is usually served on ice with a layer of sweetened condensed milk or cream on top. It is left up to the drinker to mix the drink, which gives it the iconic orange color. I'll show you how to make it at home and give you some sanity saving tips along the way.

What you need:

  • Large pot
  • Tea filter
  • Pitcher

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons of Thai Iced tea mix per cup of water
  • Water
  • ½-1 Tablespoon of Sugar per cup of water

Finding the tea to use can be a bit difficult. Usually you will find it in Asian markets in the tea section. You'll probably end up spending 10-15 minutes reading every label up and down and you still probably won't see it. The kind that I have found looks like this:

If you don't see it the first time, look again. It's very good at blending in with the other teas there. This 16oz bag, which is probably good enough for 3-5 gallons of Thai Tea, will set you back $4-5. That's like 1½ glasses at a Thai restaurant. One note about the mix; the dye used is very very strong and can easily stain wood/fingers/cloth. Be careful not to spill any of the liquid or mix.

If you do manage to get your hands on a bag of Thai tea mix, brewing it up is pretty much like making pasta. Boil, steep, drain. First, using the final destination pitcher, pour about 1¼ times the capacity of the pitcher into a pot. Roughly keep track of how many cups that is so we can calculate how much mix to use. I go by 3 Tablespoons per cup of water. This means if you have 4 cups of water.... 4 cups water is 12 Tablespoons of mix...which is .75 cups of mix. Bring the water to a boil and then add all of the mix. Stir the tea together and allow it to boil for another 5 minutes.

Now comes the tricky part of extracting the tea from the tea-mix. I did not have any sort of tea-filter on hand and no cheese cloth so I thought I would give my Bodum French Press a try. Pour as much liquid into the beaker as you can and let some of the mush in as well. Let this sit for a couple minutes then pressed down on the plunger. Pour out the tea into the final pitcher and add the sugar, in this case about 3-4 Tablespoons.

Set the pitcher in the refrigerator until thoroughly cooled. After it has cooled we are ready to make the beverage. Get an ice-cube-filled glass and pour nearly to the top with the tea. Now slowly pour a layer of half-and-half (about 1 oz half-and-half per 12 oz of tea). Now it's ready to be served. If you don't like to sweeten your tea beforehand, you can skip the sugar and use sweetened condensed milk instead of half-and-half. I find this has enough sugar to sweeten the tea as well. Enjoy.