The Iconic Milk Tea #2 - Cha Yen

When we visit Thai restaurants, one drink we should try is their Thai

iced tea. The sweet iced tea pairs great with Thai richly flavored dishes! Spices like star anise, cardamom and crushed tamarind seeds are some of the popular spices used in this sweetened beverage. Some recipes may include orange blossoms water made from blossoms of the bitter orange.

Tea was first imported as a cash crop in the 1980s from China, a relatively new commodity in Thailand. Tea became a popular beverage served with different meals and it was said a Thai leader who was interested in the western culture invented iced Thai tea.

Thai iced milk tea is known as cha yen and is bright orange in color. It can be found across

Thailand from street stalls to mobile motorbike drink carts. Interestingly, they mostly use the same brand of black tea - Number One Brand or Cha Dra Muer.

As Thai food became popular across the world, cha yen gained its popularity as well.

Can you make homemade cha yen? Absolutely! If you cannot find authentic Thai tea, any black tea leaves will do although I would suggest using Earl Grey.


  1. 1 tablespoon Thai black tea

  2. 1 Cup of hot boiling water

  3. 2 teaspoons of condensed milk

  4. 2 teaspoons evaporated milk

  5. 2 teaspoon sugar

  6. 1 cup of crushed ice

How to make cha yen:

  1. Steep the Thai black tea in the cup of boiling water for 10 mins

  2. Add condensed milk and evaporated milk

  3. Add sugar

  4. Use tea sock to filter the tea

  5. To make it even smoother and create tea bubbles, pour the filtered tea into one cup and pour it into another cup with a pulling motion.

If there is no tea sock, you can use a strainer to drain off the tea leaves. For a less sweetened taste, you can consider not to add in the sugar as condensed milk is sweet itself.

In our next issue which iconic milk tea do you think we will feature?

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