Thai Iced Tea (Tra Thai in Vietnamese)

Thai Iced Tea (Tra Thai in Vietnamese) Recipe

Thai iced tea (trà Thái in Vietnamese) is my favorite drink whenever I go to a phở house. I really like the contrast of flavors and temperatures between the hot broth and the cold tea.

The procedure for making trà Thái is similar to cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee). The tea is brewed for a long time to achieve a strong flavor, then sweetened with Asian rock sugar and condensed milk. It's served chilled with a lot of ice and a splash of evaporated milk.


Yields: 2

5 teaspoons loose Thai tea (see tips)
1 star anise , slightly crushed
1/2 teaspoon tamarind seeds, crushed
2-1/2 cups water, nearly boiling
5-6 tablespoons condensed milk, to taste
1-2 tablespoons evaporated milk, to taste
1 piece Asian rock sugar, about 2 inches
2 cups ice cubes, or crushed ice


To start with, always use filtered water. You don't want a chlorine taste. Add the star anise, tamarind seeds. Heat up the water, but don't bring it to a full roaring boil, around 200-212°F. The water should basically be bubbling. Add the black tea and rock sugar. Steep for about 12 minutes, no more than that. The brewing time shouldn't take too long otherwise it will alter its flavor and might bring a bitter acidic taste. Filter the tea through a fine mesh sieve or fine muslin cloth.

Add the condensed milk; it'll turn the tea into a nice caramel color. Stir well until everything is dissolved. Let the tea completely cool to room temperature.

Pour into 2 tall glasses filled with ice cubes. Top with evaporated milk.

Finish with a bubble tea fat straw, a little cocktail drink umbrella  or simply a sprig of Vietnamese mint for decoration.

You can serve this drink with rau câu, it's the Vietnamese jello cake I got for my birthday, some bánh khoai mì nướng (cassava coconut cake) or some chocolate filled sticky rice balls with coconut.

Relax and enjoy!


I buy Thai tea at Teavana in the Stanford Shopping Center, in Palo Alto, California. It's a blend of Thai black tea and Rooibos tea with coconut, almonds, and vanilla beans. It smells and tastes great. You can also buy it online. Another great option is to find whatever neighborhood teashop you might have. I love Lisa's Tea Treasures, 1175 Merrill street, Menlo Park, California. They have tons of varieties of black teas (yes there is more than one) and many of the shops I've been to have a tea sample of the day so you can try new flavors whenever you go. You can also buy Tazo (Starbucks) tea, or for a more reasonable price the San Francisco based tea company Ten Ren Tea. They're all great options, and the most expensive one may not be the best for you.

Black loose tea picture

You can find Asian rock sugar in any Asian stores. If you don't have any, you can replace with regular granulated sugar. You may want to oversweeten the tea a bit because it'll taste less sweet when it's chilled.

I use Longevity brand sweetened condensed milk, the one with the picture of a white bearded old man. You can easily find it in Asian stores.

I added ground tamarind seeds to the water to imbue a natural orange hue to the tea. If you don't have any, you can always add a combination of a hint of red food coloring and double the amount of yellow food coloring. You can also add beet powder as a sweetener and natural food coloring.

Always start with cold, fresh filtered water to avoid that off-taste because of the presence of chlorine in regular water.

I mentioned in the instructions to use nearly boiling water. Plain water boils at temperatures from about 200°F to 212°F. The temperature for brewing black tea is about 200°F (208°F for an optimal taste).

For a richer mouth feel, you can substitute the evaporated milk with half and half. Some people also use coconut milk.

Some people like to add a hint of orange blossom water, a pinch of clove powder, a stick of cinnamon or even licorice to their Thai tea, but I don't.

Thai Iced Tea Recipe with Photo

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on August 19, 2009.


[-] Yum - Guest-Jen
I love thai iced tea!!

Jen Website Link
[ Posted at 4:03 AM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-Donna
This looks truly refreshing and delicious!

donna Website Link
[ Posted at 5:31 AM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] alright - Guest-OysterCulture
we just introduced my parents to this tea and they are obsessed! I'll have to share youre recipe with them

OysterCulture Website Link
[ Posted at 6:19 AM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-rose
Beautifully done! We LOVE Thai Iced Tea :) Can't wait to make this!

Rose Website Link
[ Posted at 9:04 AM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-IrinaPastryPal
It is so, so hot around here today. This would really hit the spot. Look at all the condensation on that ice cold drink!

Irina@PastryPal Website Link
[ Posted at 11:45 AM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] really? - Guest-JessicaFoodmayhem
I was told Thai Iced Tea was made with a certain type of red bark or something like that. Was I misled? If it's just black tea, I could have been making Thai Iced Tea all this time and I've been missing out.

Jessica@Foodmayhem Website Link
[ Posted at 12:32 PM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
There are two kinds of Thai tea: black and red. I usually use black tea or a blend of the two (count 2 parts black tea and 1 red tea).Although it is possible to find these teas in ethnic markets in bags, the preferred, authentic brewing method calls for loose tea leaves. Thai tea is much stronger than other tea, which is why it is diluted with milk.
[ Posted at 1:24 PM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-diva
wow this sounds amazing! star anise?? lovely. i really would like to taste it, it might do much to cool me off in this heat too. x

diva Website Link
[ Posted at 6:10 PM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-LorraineNotQuiteNigella
They're great tips! I should really try and make that as it wiull help bring back wonderful memories of our holiday there :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella Website Link
[ Posted at 7:01 PM on 8/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-noraffr
yummm!! i lurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrve ice tea :)

nora@ffr Website Link
[ Posted at 9:37 AM on 8/21/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-Kevin
That tea look nice and refreshing and good! I am going to have to look for some Thai tea to try this.

Kevin Website Link
[ Posted at 5:14 PM on 8/21/09 | Reply ]
[-] Wow, you actually know - Guest-RobertDanhi
Great job on this post...very few know about tamarind seeds being the original coloring agent in Thai Tea. Some mixes also have vanilla and sesame seeds added. Thai Coffee: roasted soy, corn, sesame with coffee....

Robert Danhi Website Link
[ Posted at 8:10 AM on 8/22/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-pixen
that's heaven. Problem was I cant find Thai Tea leaves in my local Asian supermarket here :'(

That means I have to dig further for other shops. Thank you for sharing the recipes :-)

pixen Website Link
[ Posted at 5:11 PM on 8/28/09 | Reply ]

You can make your own by mixing some black tea with Rooibos tea. Or you can get it online or simply check your local tea house. Hope this helps!

[ Posted at 5:44 PM on 8/28/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-pixen
Come to think of it the Thai tea did have a taste like Rooibos tea. I may try it out...Thank you for the information. Comes to worst, I will ask my friends from Thailand to bring some over. :-D

pixen Website Link
[ Posted at 5:53 PM on 8/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] vanilla beans extract - Guest-harcoutbreton
You could also have a homemade vanilla beans extract to give that extra flavor and aroma on this.

harcoutbreton Website Link
[ Posted at 4:19 PM on 8/30/09 | Reply ]

There is already vanilla beans in the Thai tea I use but you can certainly add some more for a nice aroma.

[ Posted at 4:44 PM on 8/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thai Iced Tea Recipe - Guest-PlantLust
Ok, I'm stuck.
Where would I get tamarind seeds? I have tamarind PASTE but I suspect that won't work...
[ Posted at 11:07 AM on 4/10/13 | Reply ]
[-] Tamarind seed - Guest-Paul
So the tamarind seed isn't part of the flavor? I've been trying to duplicate Thai tea from scratch, rather than buying the commercial product with food coloring. When I saw tamarind seed mentioned, I went off to use it in my last experimental recipe, before reading the part about using it for color.

The unique taste in Thai tea seems like it's something toasted, so I even put a crushed tamarind seed in the oven for a while, heating it like I would toast almonds.
[ Posted at 7:52 PM on 7/25/15 | Reply ]

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