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Thai Iced Tea | Cha Yen | ชาเย็น


When my boyfriend and I first met and I learned he was Thai, I was thrilled because even though I didn’t know much about Thai food at that point, I knew that I loved Thai iced tea. I asked him if he knew how to make it and he said “Of course!” and started filling two glasses with ice.  As he was preparing the drinks, I left the kitchen a minute…  only to come back and find him with his laptop on the counter, scouring the internet for “how to make Thai iced tea”.

I never get tired of teasing him about this story, even now that we’ve been together for a few years. We’ve tried to make this tea a few times over the years, but have never been able to get the milk to float on top of the tea like it does in restaurants.  So I figured with the start of this blog, it’s about time that he and I both learned how to make a proper glass of Thai iced tea. 


From my research, it seems like there are two basic ways to make Thai iced tea.  One method calls for mixing the tea with sweetened condensed milk and then layering evaporated milk on top.  This method works because the density of the evaporated milk is less than that of the sweetened condensed milk, so it floats!  This style of tea is rich and creamy.  The other method simply calls for straight Thai tea mixed with sugar and a layer of half and half cream on top.  I can’t explain why the half and half floats for this one, but I have a feeling it has to do with the large amounts of sugar and ice also occupying the glass.

I think I prefer the second method with half and half cream, if only because I feel like it’s slightly better for you than the first, so this is the method I detailed below.  If you want to try the first method, the only difference is to add 2-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk to the hot tea and use a little less sugar.  Then once it’s cool, top with evaporated milk.  Regardless of which way you prefer to make your Thai iced tea, it’s a divine treat and is still one of my favorite Thai drinks. 

And the best part is that now I (and my Thai boyfriend) finally know how to make a respectable glass of Thai iced tea…


Thai Iced Tea | Cha Yen | ชาเย็น

Makes 2 servings

Thai Iced Tea | Cha Yen | ชาเย็น


  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Thai tea mix
  • 2-4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons half and half cream
  • cubed or crushed ice


  1. Steep the Thai tea in boiling water for 5-10 minutes or until it's very dark orange in color.
  2. Strain and add sugar while it's still warm. Feel free to add more or less depending on how sweet you like your tea. Let the tea cool to room temperature and then chill in the fridge.
  3. Pour the chilled tea into a tall glass. Add several cubes of ice and let them form a little layer on top of the tea. Gently spoon 2 Tablespoons of half and half cream onto the top of each glass and serve.


6 comments… add one
  • Maria budhi January 26, 2017, 1:07 pm

    Hi there, I like very much your article about the Thai ice tea. But can I ask you what is half and half milk/cream? I checked many blogs but cant find any more info. Could you please explain what is it and how much to add to the tea in your recipe. Thanks so much. Best regards, maria

  • jess October 29, 2012, 6:08 pm

    Hey, Love your blog. Where can I buy thai tea leaves?

    • Rachel October 30, 2012, 5:39 am

      Hi Jess! I can find Thai tea mix at my local Asian markets like Ranch 99. If you don’t have one nearby, you can also purchase it online (there’s a link to one online retailer on my pantry page). Hope this helps!

  • haneys4@msn.com January 18, 2012, 7:00 pm

    Aha – the trick to the floating cream, perhaps! We make this tea but can never get the cream to float. Next time I’ll let the ice cubes form a little iceberg on top before gently pouring in the cream.
    Thanks so much!!

  • Missluzie June 26, 2011, 3:53 pm

    Hey Rachel – love your post. I have yet to make ice tea that looks like the restaurant version. I do have the taste though, using this recipe and tea http://importfood.com/thaiicetea.html.
    I make the variant method – Yum!

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