Whenever we go out for Thai food, I love ordering a Thai iced tea as a treat. The creamy sweetness with subtle spice and vanilla flavor is perfect to counter a spicy Thai dish. We haven’t found a good Thai restaurant near our new place yet, although I did have some darn good Thai food in Northern Virginia when visiting my sister, Lauren. To ease the cravings until we find a great restaurant around here, I decided to make my own Thai iced tea!
To make Thai iced tea, all you need is black tea, sugar, anise, green cardamom, cloves, vanilla, and something creamy – regular milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, etc. Most Thai restaurants use sweetened condensed milk, but since I was making it myself, I tried to cut down on the sugar; I’ve used coconut milk and regular whole milk with similar flavor. I buy my spices from Indian spice markets (or you can find them in the Indian section in the grocery store if you have a fancy grocery store like Wegman’s!), and they’re usually very reasonably priced.
While making this, I came to realize that so much of the unique Thai tea flavor comes from the anise and the vanilla. I was surprised by how much the anise imparts flavor without making it taste like licorice! If you don’t want to buy a bunch of spices, you can buy Thai iced tea mixes online or at the store, but they usually contain yellow dyes to get that vibrant orange color when you pour in the milk. If I’m making it myself, I’ll stick to the chemical-free version, thank you! 😉
The key part of making Thai iced tea is letting it steep nice and long to get the strongest tea flavor you possibly can. After boiling the tea for a couple minutes with the spices, let it steep for at least an hour to get a nicely concentrated tea. I recommend going even longer than that if you can!
You can use bagged or loose leaf tea for this, so use whatever you have on hand! I’m excited to have this in the fridge ready for me whenever a craving strikes – maybe it’s also an encouragement to order more Thai takeout, yes? We don’t need to spend the money on the Thai iced tea in the restaurant anymore. 😉
Is there a special drink you like to get when you go out? Have you ever tried to make it at home?
- 6 cups water
- 8 black tea bags (or 3 Tbsp loose black tea)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 tsp liquid stevia (or 1/2 cup more brown sugar)
- 3 anise stars
- 1 green cardamom pod, smashed
- 3 cloves
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1 cup milk (choose your favorite kind)
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
Once boiling, add the tea, sugar, liquid stevia, anise, cardamom, cloves, and vanilla bean (or extract). Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Boil the tea for about 3 minutes, and then remove from the heat.
Allow the mixture to steep for 1-2 hours. Remove the tea bags, anise, cardamom, cloves, and vanilla bean. Place in the refrigerator until it is chilled.
To serve, fill glasses with ice and pour the tea to about 3/4 full. Top with milk. Stir and enjoy.
adapted from White on Rice Couple