I love love loved Thai tea. Every time I had a long night of studying to do in college, I would grab a friend to split a pad Thai & some Thai tea. Those were the days. But after college, I started becoming wary about hidden chemicals in my food- excess sodium in my pho, etc. I started wondering what made Thai tea have this fluorescent orange color. Spoiler alert: at a lot of restaurants, it's food coloring (yay). Also, secret ingredient #2 is sugar. A lot of sugar.
So then I started researching ways to make Thai tea in a healthier way- because I love it so, especially with boba. (Click here for my boba recipe.)
Proper Thai tea is made with high quality Ceylon tea, but because Ceylon can be expensive restaurants will use Assam tea (which is still good) or even rando tea powder (which is not good). I've tried a variety of teas, but my favorite choices are below. After reading the ingredients, if you have no interest buying spices, use this tea. It has food coloring and flavoring, but has a simple ingredients list.
Hands on time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hr 15 minutes
- 4 Cardamom pods
- 3 Cloves
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla (I like the Madagascar Vanilla)
- 1 star anise
- 1 teaspoon anise
- Half and Half
- 3 bags of high quality Ceylon tea or Aasam tea, or my personal favorite.
- Light brown sugar and honey to sweeten
- Optional: Natural food coloring. I like this one because the colors are extremely vibrant, and they're made of vegetable products. You only need 1-2 drops.
- Being 4 cups of water + anise, star anise, vanilla, cardamom, and cloves to a boil.
- Add tea bags and turn off stove immediately. If you know how much sugar and honey you want, add it now. I usually use 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of honey.
- Let tea cool. (Takes ~1 hr)
- Pour 1.5 cups of tea into a glass.
- Top with half and half and serve over ice. (I add 2 tablespoons because I like mine quite creamy.)
- Add additional sweetness as needed. (with brown sugar and honey)