Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
60 Calories
1g Fat
12g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 60
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 20mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 39mg 3%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 50mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe is for the creamy style of Thai iced tea that most Thai restaurants in America serve (ชาเย็น, also known as cha yen, cha nom yen or cha yen sai nom). While many Thai iced tea mixes often contain a low-grade powder or syrup, this authentic recipe gets its flavor from good-quality black tea and spices without any artificial ingredients. This means your Thai tea won't be bright orange, since the color comes from a dye added to Thai tea mixes.

Similar to hot Thai tea, real Thai iced tea is a mix of black tea, spices, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. It's a great drink for fans of masala chai and other spiced or milky black teas. The best part is it's easy to make and far cheaper to make from scratch than buying it.

If you don't have every one of the spices in this recipe on hand, that's OK—you can skip one or two. But if you want the full flavor, seek out the somewhat unusual ingredients (such as tamarind powder) at your local Southeast Asian or Indian market. Although you can use tea bags, it tastes better with loose-leaf tea because the flavor is richer and more complex.


Click Play to See This Thai Iced Tea Recipe Come Together

"Delicious iced tea that’s perfectly sweet and smooth—a drink you can enjoy all day. Have a lot of ice ready; pouring hot tea over ice instantly melts about half the cubes, but the dilution helps marry the flavors. If making a big batch, increase the tea and water in proportion." —Colleen Graham

Real Thai Iced Tea Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 tablespoons loose-leaf black tea

  • 1 pod star anise

  • 2 pods cardamom

  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, optional

  • 1/8 vanilla bean, optional

  • Tamarind powder, to taste, optional

  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk

  • 2 teaspoons evaporated milk, or coconut milk, or whole milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make Thai Iced Tea

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  2. Steep the tea, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, tamarind powder, and almond extract (if using) in the boiling water for 5 minutes.

    A measuring cup with tea, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, tamarind powder, and almond extract and hot water

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  3. Strain the tea through a fine mesh sieve and discard the tea leaves and spices.

    Seeped tea being pouring through a mesh strainer

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  4. Stir in the sugar and sweetened condensed milk until both are completely dissolved.

    A spoon stirring sugar and condensed milk into the seeped tea

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  5. Fill 2 tall glasses with ice. Pour the tea over the ice, leaving an inch or so of space at the top for the evaporated milk.

    Tea being poured into tall glassed with ice

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  6. Top up with more ice if needed, and then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of evaporated milk on each glass of tea.

    A hand pouring evaporated milk into the glasses of Thai iced tea

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar


    • Use strong tea such as Ceylon, Assam, or Keemun. Alternatively, you can use 4 tea bags of strong black tea, or you can make a caffeine-free Thai iced tea with 4 tablespoons of rooibos tea.
    • You easily can make this recipe vegan by replacing the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk with cream of coconut and coconut milk.
    • You can adjust the sweetness of this Thai tea according to your tastes. This recipe is not as sickly sweet as some Thai ice tea mixes, but you can increase or decrease the sugar as desired.

    Recipe Variations

    • If you like this cha yen style of Thai iced tea, you also might enjoy cha manao Thai iced tea, which replaces the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk with lime juice and jasmine essence. It is especially refreshing in summer.
    • And if you're a coffee drinker, be sure to try Thai iced coffee, which has the same spiciness and creaminess with a coffee base instead of tea.

    What is the difference between Thai tea and milk tea?

    Milk tea is a popular drink iced or hot and is traditionally made using black tea. The "milk" can range from sweetened condensed milk to evaporated milk to whole milk to non-dairy milk. Thai tea is a type of milk tea that contains a more specific mixture of black tea, spices, sugar, and evaporated and/or condensed milk.

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