Thai tea, specifically known as the Thai Iced Tea or Cha Yen (as known in the Thai language), is an orange-colored, sweet creamy beverage from Thailand, essentially made by strongly brewing black tea (the East Asian Red tea). Traditionally consumed as a chilled drink, this popular Southeast Asian tea, is also preferred to be consumed hot (as a breakfast drink) and also without milk. The drink has gained popularity throughout the world and is served in many South East Asian restaurants around the globe.
Commonly Used Ingredients and Preparation Overview of Thai Iced Tea
Traditionally, cut leaves of the Asian black tea constitute the main ingredient of the Thai tea. The strongly flavorful star anise is used to flavor the tea with a sweet licorice and floral flavor. Tamarind and orange blossoms are recommended for imparting a citrus flavor to the tea which is colored with orange and yellow food colors. Tea leaves and flavoring spices are briefly steeped in boiling water and removed from it. Sugar, used for sweetening the tea, is dissolved in the hot tea and this is followed by the addition of condensed milk. The preparation is then allowed to cool till it attains the room temperature and the tea is then chilled by pouring it over ice.
Serving Suggestions for Cha Yen
Originally, the Thai version of the tea is chilled by pouring the tea over crushed ice in a plastic bag, but the Western version of serving the Thai tea involves pouring it over crushed ice placed in a tall glass. Immediately before serving, a creamy product of choice, like evaporated milk, whole milk or coconut milk is added as a topping to the iced tea.
Thai Tea Recipe Variations
The variations of this black tea from Thailand can be categorized under two broad categories:
1. Hot Variations– Thai Hot Tea, Dark Thai Hot Tea
2. Cold Variations- Dark Thai Iced Tea, Lime Thai Tea
The hot variations are generally consumed as breakfast drinks and are served with breakfast foods like the Pa Tong Ko( Thai fried breakfast donut). The Thai Hot tea is a hot version of the Thai Tea and the Dark Thai Hot Tea is, in essence, the hot tea without milk. Unlike the milk-based versions which are sweetened by both sugar and condensed milk, sugar is the sole sweetener of the dark version.
Dark Thai Iced Tea and Lime Thai Tea are cold versions of the original iced tea, the only difference being, milk is not an ingredient of these. Lime Thai Tea specifically has a lime flavor and some recipes of the tea may prefer an additional mint flavoring.
Thai Tea Benefits
Based on a healthy ingredient like the black tea, this tea is known to have a lot of health benefits which are briefly discussed as under:
· Substances similar to insulin prevent fluctuations in the blood glucose levels and hence it is beneficial to diabetics.
· The catechins present in the black tea are believed to retard the growth and development of cancerous cells in many regions of the human body
· Antioxidants present in the tea are found to keep the cardio-vascular system healthy
· Presence of fluorine, an anti -bacterial agent, is responsible for maintaining oral hygiene of the consumer
· The anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties of the Thai tea help in making the human immune system stronger.