5 Things to Know About Thai Milk Tea

Thai Milk Tea (From Yahoo! Images)
Thai Milk Tea (From Yahoo! Images)

Look up “thai tea” online and you end up with page after page of search results about Thai Milk Tea. So I wanted to highlight five things for you to know about this cool tea treat.

1 This Is NOT the British Style of Tea with Milk

The British are famous for enjoying their tea black, strong, and with milk and sugar (a lump or two). Thai Milk Tea involves strong black tea and milk and sugar, but the similarity ends there.

2 Ice Is Part of the Recipe

Something you will never see in British style tea with milk is ice. No way. No how. Yet, it is essential to Thai Milk Tea, at least as how us Westerners make it. This style of tea is meant to be a Summer time chiller, and how do you chill without ice? (Well, okay, there’s the refrigerator, but you get my drift here.)

3 Typical Ingredients

While the recipe is fairly simple, each ingredient plays its part. Start with black tea, of course, preferrably one from Thailand, but a good Assam is a great option, and loose leaf if possible. Use about 3 ounces. Fresh water (about 6 cups) heated to a rolling boil is best. Milk is essential (duh!) and is usually both condensed and either whole, half & half, or (for the true afficionados) the stuff called “coconut milk” (actually, nothing chemically like milk, so if you’re lactose intolerant, this should be a good option). Thai spices are to be expected, with star anise, ground tamarind, and cardamom being the most commonly used.

4 Typical Preparation

Steep up the tea leaves and spices in the boiling water for at least 5 minutes (you could go to 7 or 8 minutes to get it extra strong and add a bit of extra sugar to cover any bitterness). You’re going to be diluting the tea with the milk and ice, so an extra strong tea is needed here. Strain out the tea leaves and spices. Stir the sugar into the hot tea and stir until thoroughly dissolved. Add the condensed milk, if used, and stir to mix. Cool the liquid to room temperature. Put ice in tall glasses, pour in tea to about 3/4 full, and top off with cold milk or coconut “milk.”

5 Don’t Stir!

A key feature of Thai Milk Tea is that layer of milk at the top of the glass, so whatever you do, don’t stir! You’ll be tempted, but that would totally spoil the experience. Just grab a straw and enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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