Thai Tea from Scratch

This sweet and creamy Thai Tea recipe from scratch is a decadent iced tea using real Thai spices, rich sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and real tea. Sip this beautiful bold ombré beverage to cool off or use it as an amazing contrast to spicy Thai foods. Included are directions for making a quick version like you find in your favorite Thai restaurants or stores.

Thai iced tea topped with mint leaves in a plastic cup.

Why This Recipe Works

Iced tea is the perfect beverage for sipping on steamy days, but better yet Thai Iced Tea breaks the bite of spicy meals. It’s the perfect pair for those famous Thai dishes such as tom yum or pad prik king. This deliciously sweet and creamy iced beverage with its famous burnt orange coloring is part caffeinated tea and almost part dessert.

Traditionally, and in most Thai restaurants Thai milk tea is made using Thai tea mix, which is where the bold orange coloring comes from, however, you can also make it from home without the mix. I’ve included directions for both but my preference is from scratch.

If you’ve ever wondered how to make Thai tea at home or a Thai tea recipe from scratch then this simple recipe will fulfill your craving. This DIY Thai tea is perfectly sweet and creamy as any version you’d get from a restaurant or café. I’ve prepared it so many times it’s almost become a daily staple along with my other obsessions, which are taro bubble tea and this DIY Pink Drink recipe.

Ingredients Needed for Thai Iced Tea

Traditional Thai tea is made using a Thai tea mix. When my cravings recently kicked in for this decadent icy beverage I searched and searched for a tea mix without the food dye. Sadly, I couldn’t find anything, but this only encouraged me to find a healthy Thai iced tea alternative that tastes equally delicious, if not exactly like the original. Making Thai tea from scratch allows you to omit unhealthy ingredients.

Thai iced tea ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient Notes:

  • Black Tea Bags: you can use either loose tea or tea bags to prepare this recipe. I prefer black tea bags because they’re a tad less messy and makes for a slightly quicker prep.
  • Sugar: The sugar you choose to use for this recipe is entirely up to you. If using something like stevia though you will not need as much as the recipe below suggests. I prefer to use coconut palm sugar because it tends to be one of the healthier options for sweetening recipes.
  • Star Anise: this licorice-like flavored spice is a key ingredient to a bold flavor that also adds a subtle sweetness. Sometimes it can be hard to find in grocery stores, but you can easily purchase it online.
  • Whole Caradamom: this spice is described as being spicy, citrusy, and minty all at the same time, and has a strong aroma which makes it perfect for this tea blend.
  • Cinnamon Stick: this pungent and bitter spice is stronger in its original form. Adding a single stick to the tea mixture will add a unique warming flavor.
  • Vanilla Bean: slice a 1/4-inch sized piece from a vanilla bean to add to the tea and spice mixture, which adds a strong vanilla taste in addition to adding vanilla extract which smooths the overall flavor of the beverage.
  • Tumeric: This spice has an earthy and bitter taste with an almost musky peppery flavor, but mixed into this tea recipe it blends smoothly and is responsible for creating the beautiful orange flavor without having to use food coloring or dye.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: generally sweetened condensed milk isn’t one of the most healthy ingredients in a recipe, however, this organic version leaves out all the junk. You can also use canned coconut milk too and omit dairy altogether.
  • Evaporated Milk: you can use just sweetened condensed milk but I prefer to mix the two together for a smooth creamy texture.

Recipe Alternatives

Traditional Thai Iced Tea

  • 1/2 cup Thai Tea Mix
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

Bring the water to a soft boil and whisk in the Thai tea mix until dissolved. Stir in the sugar until dissolved and continue to let boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely, about 20 minutes, which also concentrates the tea flavor. Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove any sediment. Fill 2 glasses with ice and fill each glass about 3/4 full of the tea mixture. Top with sweetened condensed milk.

Dairy-Free

Following the directions for preparing the Thai iced tea mix up to adding the milk. Instead of using sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk use canned coconut milk. Shake the can before opening it or blend it in a blender to mix in the coconut cream with the coconut milk for a smooth pour.

Thai Bubble Tea

One of my favorite ways to enjoy Thai iced tea is with boba, tapioca pearls, on the bottom and is commonly referred to as bubble tea. To make this prepare the boba as directed on the package and add it to the bottom of your glass before adding the ice. To truly enjoy the beverage this way you’ll also need bubble tea straws, which allow you to get the boba on the bottom. It may sound odd, but it’s actually delicious.

Cha Manao

This version of Thai iced tea replaces the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk with lime juice and jasmine essence, which is a refreshing yet healthier version of the beverage.

Instructions for Making a Thai Tea Recipe from Scratch

If you’ve ever wondered what Thai tea is it’s a caffeinated tea beverage made using either Thai tea mix or fresh spices mixed with milk and sugar.

It can be served hot or cold and traditionally the burnt orange-colored tea is poured in first so it’s on the bottom and then topped with milk or other milk alternatives like sweetened condensed milk. The flavor is earthy and nutty and very sweet.

Thai iced tea process steps 1 and 2.
  • Brew the tea. Place the tea bags, water, vanilla extract, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and turmeric into a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Strain it. Pour the tea mixture through a strainer to remove the whole spices. Allow the tea to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Thai iced tea process steps 3 and 4.
  • Prepare the milk. In a small bowl whisk the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk (or whole milk) together until smooth.
  • Assemble. Fill two glasses with ice and pour the tea over the ice. Pour the milk mixture over the tea. Garnish with mint leaves.

Homemade Evaporated Milk Instructions

Since this recipe only makes two drinks you won’t need very much evaporated milk. You can store the remaining homemade milk in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for your next batch of tea.

  1. Place 1 cup of whole milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Bring the milk to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer the milk for 20 to 25 minutes until it’s reduced by about half.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool before using. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Storage Information

If you plan on making large batches of this tea, which I highly recommend, then you’ll want to store the tea in glass jars with lids or in a pitcher. Keeping them in single-serve-sized jars makes them easy to grab and go. The tea will keep for up to 7 days stored in the refrigerator.

It is entirely your choice if you would like to add the sweetened milk mixture to your tea during storage or keep it stored separately. The milk mixture only keeps for about 4 to 5 days if you add in whole milk or evaporated milk. Keep this separate and the sweetened condensed milk will last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Thai milk tea in plastic cups topped with mint leaves.

Helpful Equipment

  • Mini Strainer: when I prepare this tea I make it using a small saucepan and then strain it through a mini strainer. There are many other ways to brew tea, but I find this one simple and quick.
  • Tea Kettle: you can also boil your water using a tea kettle and then pour it over the tea ingredients to steep.

Recipe Notes and Expert Tips

  • Add plenty of sugar but adjust the sweetness to your liking. The best Thai iced tea is very sweet just like southern sweet tea. While it’s not the most healthy ingredient, adding enough sugar is key to getting that sweet milk taste, which is why I like to use Simple Syrup or Brown Sugar Syrup.
  • Save time and cut out steps by using this teapot. Whenever I prepare tea using loose tea itself I use this teapot. It cuts down on having to use a strainer.
  • Since this healthy Thai tea recipe is made without using Thai tea mix you won’t get the super orange color. The mix has food coloring, which you can add yourself using a dye-free food coloring. I did NOT use dye in the version you see here in the photos.
  • To get the burnt orange color without food coloring make sure to use turmeric. Sprinkling the powder into your recipe will naturally dye the tea burnt orange without the potential health consequences. While turmeric does have a strong flavor it doesn’t overpower this Thai tea mixture.

FAQs

Which tea is best for making Thai milk tea?

Traditional Thai Iced Tea uses a Thai tea mix that comes in powder form. For a healthier version and this recipe, you’ll want to use black tea. You can either use loose tea and place it in a tea infuser or cheesecloth. The best option though is to use tea bags, which are less cumbersome for this recipe.

What’s in Thai tea?

This tea beverage is most commonly made from tea mix, water, milk, and sugar and can be served hot or cold. The tea is poured over ice and sweetened with sugar then topped with evaporated milk.

Can I use any kind of milk?

Yes. It’s not necessary to use both sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. You can use half and half, heavy cream, or even whole milk. I don’t recommend using low-fat milk because they’re not creamy enough and the beverage would be too watery.

Can this be made caffeine-free?

Yes, to prepare a caffeine-free version using rooibos tea. You’ll want to brew a strong version of this which would be about 4 tea bags or 4 tablespoons of loose tea.

I’ve recently traveled down a delightful rabbit hole of decadent drinks like this tea. I have been quite literally whipping up beverages such as whipped coffee and dalgona matcha. I’m the least one surprised by my current Thai beverage obsession, which actually is just an old favorite.

If you made this Thai Iced Tea recipe from scratch I want to hear all about it! Share a photo and tag me on Instagram using @AimeeMarsLiving and #AimeeMars so I can see your beautiful work. Enjoy!

Thai iced tea topped with mint leaves in a plastic cup.

Thai Tea from Scratch

This sweet and creamy Thai Tea Recipe from Scratch is a decadent chilly caffeinated drink recipe without the harmful dyes. Sip this beautiful beverage with a bold ombre orange color to cool off or cool down when eating spicy Thai foods.
4.90 from 126 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Thai
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes
Servings: 2 Servings
Calories: 227kcal
Author: Aimee Mars

Equipment

  • Mini Strainer or Tea Strainer
  • Tea Kettle

Ingredients

Thai Tea

  • 6 Black Tea Bags
  • cups Water
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract optional
  • 2 pieces Star Anise
  • 1 tablespoons Whole Cardamom
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 piece Vanilla Bean
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar I used coconut palm sugar

Sweetened Milk

  • 1/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Evaporated Milk or whole milk

Instructions

Thai Tea

  • Place the tea bags, water, vanilla extract, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and turmeric into a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Pour the tea mixture through a strainer to remove the whole spices. Fill two glasses with ice and pour the tea over the ice.

Sweetened Milk

  • In a small bowl whisk the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk (or whole milk) together until smooth.
  • Pour the milk mixture over the iced Thai tea. Garnish with mint leaves.

Notes

  • Add plenty of sugar but adjust the sweetness to your liking. The best Thai iced tea is very sweet just like southern sweet tea. While it’s not the most healthy ingredient, adding enough sugar is key to getting that sweet milk taste. You can adjust the sugar to how sweet you want it though.
  • Save time and cut out steps by using this teapot. Whenever I prepare tea using loose tea itself I use this teapot. It cuts down on having to use a strainer.
  • Since this healthy Thai tea recipe is made without using Thai tea mix you won’t get the super orange color. The mix has food coloring, which you can add yourself using dye-free food coloring. I did NOT use dye in the version you see here in the photos.
  • To get the burnt orange color without food coloring make sure to use turmeric. Sprinkling the powder into your recipe will naturally dye the tea burnt orange without the potential health consequences. While turmeric does have a strong flavor it doesn’t overpower this Thai tea mixture.
 

How to Make Evaporated Milk:

  1. Place 1 cup of whole milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Bring the milk to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer the milk for 20 to 25 minutes until it’s reduced by about half.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool before using. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
 

Dairy-Free Thai Tea:

Following the directions for preparing the Thai tea mix up to adding the milk. Instead of using sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk use canned coconut milk. Shake the can before opening it or blend it in a blender to mix in the coconut cream with the coconut milk for a smooth pour.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 227kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 81mg | Potassium: 271mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 138IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 192mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @AimeeMarsLiving or tag #AimeeMarsLiving!

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About The Author

Aimee

I’m thrilled you’ve stopped by my space here and love to connect with new friends through food. I’ve always felt sharing meals brings people together, which is one of the many reasons I began this site.

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