As we are apparently approaching summer, it is in the spirit of optimism that I give you this recipe for a classic Thai iced drink, cha yen. Cha yen is a rich, sweet, fragrant drink served at Thai restaurants worldwide. Full of sugar and an alarming shade of orange in almost all its forms, cha yen’s sole reason for existence is your enjoyment.

You need made-for-the-purpose Thai tea, easily found at an Asian supermarket. No other tea will already be infused with that delicately smoky vanilla and anise scent that makes this drink so special.

The recipe below works best with either a teapot or a French press. For the former, you can pour the brewed tea through any sort of fine strainer; I improvised with a paper-towel lined sieve. Be warned: the tea will stain anything it touches a sensational orange – it probably isn’t natural, and adding milk from tins probably doesn’t help the overall impression. However, I feel that distinct unwholesomeness is part of the charm. Enjoy!


Recipes: Thai Iced Tea with Milk

Serving Size: 2


  • . 4 tablespoons Thai tea leaves
  • . 200ml boiling hot water
  • . 3-5 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk to taste
  • . 1-2 tablespoons evaporated milk, also to taste
  • . A splash of fresh milk
  • . Caster sugar, if needed
  • . Ice to serve


  1. Put the Thai tea leaves into your brewing vessel and pour over the hot water.
  2. Briefly mix, then leave to brew for 2 â?? 3 minutes only â?? any longer and itâ??ll be bitter.
  3. Immediately strain the hot tea into a jug or large glass.
  4. Sweeten the tea: start off by adding 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk.
  5. Stir to dissolve, then taste and adjust: it should be quite strong as itâ??ll be served over ice.
  6. For further sweetness without making the tea too syrupy, add some sugar.
  7. When itâ??s just right, refrigerate until needed or serve right away: divide the tea between 2 glasses packed with ice.
  8. The tea will probably barely come up to half to three-quarters of the glass. Top up with more fresh milk to make a longer drink, if you want.
  9. Drizzle a little more of the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk on top to serve.


About The Author

History of Art graduate from SOAS (jointly with UCL). I cook, eat, and observe the world. Then I write about it and share it with you. This is a unilateral decision.

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