Thai Iced Tea – Cha Yen
A Recipe of Kasma Loha-unchit
Recipe Copyright © 2001 Kasma Loha-unchit.
The tea I use is a 16 ounce package labeled "Thai Style Spiced Tea" or "Thai Seasoning Mix" and "packed by Pantainorasingh Manufacturer."
I make it using a traditional Thai tea steeper (see photo to left): it is a tubular filter made of white muslin or cotton attached around the top to a metal ring that has a handle.
Balance filter ring above a tea or coffee pot. Fill filter with the desired amount of tea. Pour in boiling water and steep to desired strength. (See picture below, right.) Make the tea strong because it will be diluted later with milk and ice: I use approximately 2 Tbs. tea to 1 cup hot water.
You may also use a coffee filter, but you'll need to use more tea mix to get the strength you wish.
Sweeten the tea partially with sugar and finish off by adding sweetened condensed milk to taste. Pour over a glass of ice. Top with evaporated milk.
Take note that the rich orange color of the tea is from food coloring. The tea mix is made of black tea roasted with anise or licorice flavorings.
You've got to stir the tea while adding the condensed milk so that it dissolves and mixes in with the tea. Once mixed it shouldn't separate and sink to the bottom. It helps if you add it when the tea is still warm - it won't melt very well in ice-cold tea.
Where did I go wrong? It didn't taste like it was supposed to.
Did you sweeten the tea partially with sugar before sweetening it further to the desired sweetness with the condensed milk? Sweetening entirely with condensed milk makes a tea that tastes way too milky. Also, did you steep the tea as I did in class to get all its flavor out into the hot water? If your tea tastes too weak, make it stronger by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more tea mix to each cup of boiling water. It's easier to weaken strong tea than to make weak tea stronger later - so add less water during steeping and if the resulting tea tastes too strong, add water to dilute to the strength you desire. A pinch of salt also helps improve the flavor of sweetened tea.
Kasma teaches this recipe in her Beginning Thai Cooking Class – both in the evening series and Weeklong Beginning/Intermediate.