What Does Thai Tea Taste Like?

Thai tea, also known as “cha-yen” in Thailand, is a popular and refreshing beverage made from strongly brewed black tea, sweeteners, and milk or cream.

The black tea leaves used in Thai tea are often crushed or ground and mixed with other ingredients such as yellow food coloring, tamarind, or spices like star anise and cinnamon. This mixture gives Thai tea its unique orange color and distinct flavor profile.

But what does Thai tea taste like?

Thai iced tea

What Does Thai Tea Taste Like?

Thai tea is a delicious and refreshing beverage with a unique taste profile. It is characterized by its bold, sweet flavor, often accompanied by a hint of spice. The tea leaves used in Thai tea give it a deep, rich flavor that can be further enhanced with sweeteners and milk, resulting in a creamy, satisfying beverage. Some Thai tea recipes also incorporate fragrant spices like star anise, cinnamon, or tamarind to create a more complex flavor experience.

What Is Thai Tea Similar To?

Thai tea is similar to other milk teas and chai teas in taste, but it stands out due to its distinct flavor profile. Here are a few examples of similar beverages:

  1. Indian Masala Chai: Both Thai tea and Indian masala chai contain black tea, sweeteners, and milk, but masala chai has a more pronounced spice profile with ingredients like cardamom, cloves, and black pepper.
  2. Hong Kong Milk Tea: Hong Kong milk tea is another beverage that combines black tea with milk, creating a creamy and smooth tea experience. However, Thai tea is typically sweeter and more aromatic, with a more robust flavor.
  3. British Milk Tea: British milk tea is a simple combination of black tea, milk, and sugar, which shares similarities with Thai tea in terms of creaminess and sweetness. However, Thai tea has a unique color and a more intense flavor profile.

How Do You Make Thai Tea Taste Better?

Adjust the Sweetness

Sweetness plays a key role in Thai tea’s flavor profile. Adjusting the level of sweetness to your personal preference can significantly improve the taste. You can experiment with different sweeteners such as white sugar, brown sugar, palm sugar, or even honey. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the packaging if you’re using a branded product.

Choose the Right Milk

The choice of milk can have a significant impact on the flavor and creaminess of Thai tea. Traditional Thai tea recipes often use sweetened condensed milk, which adds to the beverage’s rich taste. You can also use evaporated milk, whole milk, or even non-dairy alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk. Experiment with different types of milk to find the one that best suits your taste buds.

Add Spices

Incorporating spices can elevate the taste of Thai tea and create a more complex flavor profile. Spices commonly used in Thai tea include star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, and tamarind. You can also experiment with other spices to create your own unique blend. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines if you’re using a branded product.

What Does Thai Tea Smell Like?

Thai tea has a captivating aroma that often entices the senses before the first sip. The tea leaves themselves have an earthy and slightly sweet scent. When combined with the other ingredients, the aroma becomes more complex, with hints of caramel, vanilla, and spices.

How to Make Thai Tea From Scratch

Making Thai tea from scratch allows you to control the ingredients and adjust the flavors according to your preferences. Here’s a recipe for making Thai tea from scratch:


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup loose black tea leaves (e.g., Ceylon or Assam)
  • 1-2 star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed tamarind (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • Yellow or orange food coloring (optional)
  • Sweetener of your choice (sugar, palm sugar, or honey)
  • Milk or cream of your choice (sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, or non-dairy alternatives)


  1. Boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 cup of loose black tea leaves to the boiling water.
  3. Add 1-2 star anise pods and 1 cinnamon stick to the saucepan. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of crushed tamarind and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract for extra flavor, but these are optional.
  4. If you’d like to achieve the traditional orange color of Thai tea, add a few drops of yellow or orange food coloring. This step is optional and does not affect the flavor.
  5. Let the tea and spices steep for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Strain the tea through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove the tea leaves and spices. Discard the solids.
  7. Add your preferred sweetener to the hot tea, adjusting the sweetness to your taste. Stir until the sweetener is fully dissolved.
  8. Allow the tea to cool down to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 1 hour to chill.
  9. To serve, fill a glass with ice and pour the chilled tea over it. Add your preferred milk or cream, such as sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, or a non-dairy alternative, and stir well to combine.
  10. Enjoy your homemade Thai tea from scratch!

By making Thai tea from scratch, you can experiment with different ingredients and adjust the flavors to suit your taste preferences.

Final Thoughts

Thai tea is a delightful and unique beverage that offers a perfect blend of bold flavors, sweetness, and creaminess. By experimenting with different sweeteners, milk types, and spices, you can customize your Thai tea experience to suit your taste preferences.

Whether you’re a tea enthusiast or simply looking for a refreshing drink, Thai tea is a must-try for its distinctive taste and aroma.

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