The Mystery Behind Thai Tea’s Distinctive Orange Color

Thai tea, known as “cha-yen” in Thailand, is a popular beverage with a unique, vibrant orange color that leaves many people wondering: why is Thai tea orange?

Thai iced tea

What Is Thai Tea?

One of the primary reasons why Thai tea is orange is the addition of artificial food coloring. Thai tea manufacturers often add yellow and red food dyes to the dry tea leaves during the production process. This step is done to enhance the tea’s appearance, making it more visually appealing to customers. The use of food coloring in Thai tea is widespread and contributes significantly to its distinctive orange hue.

Another factor that contributes to Thai tea’s orange color is the use of tamarind in some recipes. Tamarind is a fruit that originates from Africa and is commonly used in Thai cuisine for its sweet and sour flavor profile. When added to Thai tea, tamarind imparts a subtle tartness and lends a natural reddish-brown color to the tea. While not all Thai tea recipes include tamarind, its presence in some variations further accentuates the orange hue.

Does the Color Affect the Flavor?

Now that we’ve established what makes Thai tea orange, it’s natural to wonder if the color has any impact on the taste of the tea. While the addition of food coloring is primarily for visual appeal, the use of tamarind and evaporated or condensed milk certainly affects the flavor.

Tamarind adds a tangy, fruity note to the tea, creating a unique flavor profile that sets Thai tea apart from other black tea blends. The evaporated or condensed milk imparts a smooth, creamy taste that perfectly balances the strong flavors of the Ceylon tea leaves.


Ultimately, Thai tea’s orange color is the result of a combination of factors, including the type of tea leaves used, the addition of food coloring, tamarind, and the use of evaporated or condensed milk. While the color is a visual trademark of this beloved beverage, it is the rich, sweet, and creamy flavor that keeps people coming back for more.

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