Thai Tea Cocktail Recipe

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Thai Tea Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


Thai Tea, also known as Cha Yen, is a popular iced tea beverage in Thailand. It is made from strongly brewed Ceylon tea and is often mixed with spices like star anise, tamarind, and orange blossom water. It is then sweetened with sugar and condensed milk, and served over ice. This cocktail version adds a twist by incorporating alcohol into the mix, making it a perfect drink for those who love Thai flavors and want to enjoy a refreshing, exotic cocktail.

How Thai Tea Tastes?

This Thai Tea cocktail has a unique, sweet, and creamy taste with a hint of spiciness from the spices. The strong tea flavor is balanced by the sweetness of the condensed milk and the smoothness of the alcohol, making it a delightful and refreshing drink.

Interesting facts about Thai Tea

  • Thai Tea is traditionally served in a tall glass with a long spoon, allowing the drinker to mix the condensed milk and tea together before sipping.
  • The vibrant orange color of Thai Tea comes from the addition of food coloring, which is often added to the tea leaves during the production process.
  • In Thailand, Thai Tea is often enjoyed as a street food, with vendors selling it in plastic bags with a straw for easy consumption on the go.


  • Ceylon tea: 1 cup
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Star anise: 2
  • Condensed milk: 1/4 cup
  • Sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Orange blossom water: 1 tsp
  • Tamarind: 1 tsp
  • Vodka: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Spiced rum: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Ice: 1 cup

A few good options for Thai Tea are:

  • Grey Goose
  • Belvedere
  • Khor
  • Smirnoff

Learn everything on which Vodka to choose

Ceylon tea

A classic component for any tea-based drink. Ceylon tea provides a robust and aromatic base that carries the other flavors. Use too little, and the drink might taste watery; too much could overwhelm with bitterness. If it's not your cup of tea, Earl Grey could step in with its citrusy bergamot notes.

Alex Green


Where there's tea, there's water. The solvent of life, water extracts the essence of tea and spices. The ratio is key: Too much water dilutes, too little and it's like a steep cliff of concentrated flavor!

Emma Rose

Star anise

This little star-shaped pod is not just here for looks, though it's certainly pretty! It adds a licorice-like depth and exotic complexity. No star anise? Some clove could similarly spice up your life!

Mary Mitkina

Condensed milk

Creamy, sweet, and a bit thick—it’s the bridge between the strong tea and the bold spirits. If one were to skimp on it, the drink may lose its velvety charm. But hey, if dairy is not your dance partner, coconut milk could groove in for a tropical twist.

Alex Green


It's the sweetener that needs no introduction. Just right, it balances the punch of the alcohol and the astringency of the tea; too much, and you might as well be drinking sugar with a side of cocktail. No sugar? A touch of honey or agave can step up to the sweetening plate.

Emma Rose

Orange blossom water

This fragrant floral water is like the perfume of the drink—just a hint and you're transported to an exotic blossom-filled grove. Overshooting the mark may turn it into grandma's potpourri. Exchange with rose water for a different type of romance.

Mary Mitkina


This tangy treat brings a zing and a touch of sour to the party, keeping it all from getting too sweet. Miss it out, and you'll miss the pucker. Lemon juice could pinch-hit for some zippy acidity if tamarind is hard to come by.

Alex Green


The secret agent of spirits—it slips in unnoticed, delivering a clean alcohol boost without altering the fundamental flavors. But if vodka decides to go undercover elsewhere, white rum could provide a smooth but slightly sweeter profile.

Emma Rose

Spiced rum

Adding warmth and whispers of vanilla, clove, and cinnamon, spiced rum turns this cocktail into a true adventurer. Without it, the cocktail might feel a little less 'Indiana Jones' and a bit more 'librarian in the stacks'. Sub it out for bourbon if you fancy a Kentucky kick.

Mary Mitkina


Chill factor: Essential. This crystal-clear cooler keeps everything refreshing. Skimp on it, and you might as well sip your cocktail from a volcano. Substitutes? Well, frozen tea cubes if you want to get fancy without diluting the drink as they melt.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Thai Tea Drink

  1. Brew the tea: In a pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the Ceylon tea and star anise, and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain the tea and let it cool.
  2. Sweeten the tea: In a separate container, mix the condensed milk, sugar, orange blossom water, and tamarind until well combined. Add this mixture to the cooled tea and stir well.
  3. Mix the cocktail: In a shaker, combine the vodka, spiced rum, and 1 cup of the sweetened tea mixture. Add ice and shake well.
  4. Serve: Pour the cocktail into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with a star anise on top and serve with a long spoon.

Pro Tips

  • Brewing the tea: The longer you steep the tea, the stronger the flavor. If you prefer a lighter taste, reduce the steeping time.
  • Mixing the cocktail: Make sure to shake the cocktail well to fully combine all the flavors.
  • Serving: Serve the cocktail immediately after mixing to enjoy it at its freshest.

Perfect Pairings

Savory Snacks

  • Spring Rolls: The freshness of spring rolls with their herby and vegetal crunch pairs well with the aromatic qualities of the Thai Tea cocktail.
  • Satay: The savory and slightly charred flavors of satay skewers can complement the spiced notes in the cocktail.


  • Mango Sticky Rice: The sweet and creamy dessert is a perfect pairing for the cocktail, balancing out the spices and the sweetness.
  • Coconut Ice Cream: Its creamy texture and tropical flavor profile would contrast well with the spiced and citrusy taste of the Thai Tea cocktail.


  • Cold Brew Coffee: For those looking for a non-alcoholic complement, the smooth, rich flavors of cold brew could provide a pleasant contrast to the sweet and spiced notes of the Thai Tea cocktail.

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What you could change in Thai Tea

  • Ceylon tea: You can substitute it with any strong black tea.
  • Star anise: If you don't have star anise, you can use a pinch of aniseed or fennel seeds.
  • Condensed milk: Regular milk or cream can be used as a substitute, but the taste will be less sweet.
  • Vodka and Spiced rum: You can use any other spirits you prefer or omit them for a non-alcoholic version.

Explore all drinks starting with T here

And of course - twists🍹

Chai Thai Tea Cocktail

Substitute the Ceylon tea with a strong Chai brew. Add a cinnamon stick in the brewing process for a little extra warmth. This version would be richer and spiced with a touch of Indian flair, as Chai spices bring their own brand of magic to the mix, giving the cocktail a homely yet exotic twist.

Thai Tea Mojito

Add fresh mint leaves and lime juice, and top with soda water. Use less sugar since the lime's tartness will balance the sweetness. This cocktail becomes a tropical refresher, perfect for sipping on a sunny beach or dreaming of one from cloudy climes. The mint and lime will add freshness and zing, turning it into a Southeast Asian Mojito.

Coconut Thai Tea Delight

Replace the condensed milk and sugar with coconut cream and a splash of coconut syrup. Omit the vodka and double up on the spiced rum. You get a creamier, more tropical cocktail that evokes the feeling of a Thai beach party. The coconut flavors would give a smooth and sweet edge to the drink, making it more of a dessert cocktail.

In case you forgot basics how to make Thai Tea

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Thai Tea

What is the origin of Thai Tea?

Thai Tea, also known as 'Cha Yen', originated in Thailand and is a popular drink in Southeast Asian countries.

Can Thai Tea be served hot?

Traditionally, Thai Tea is served cold over ice, but it can also be served hot if preferred.

Why is Thai Tea orange?

The vibrant orange color is typically achieved by adding food coloring to the tea during the brewing process.

Does Thai Tea have caffeine?

Yes, Thai Tea contains caffeine since it's made with black tea leaves.

Is there a non-alcoholic version of this Thai Tea cocktail?

Yes, the original Thai Tea does not contain alcohol. For the non-alcoholic version, simply omit the vodka and spiced rum.

Could I use a different type of alcohol in this cocktail?

Yes, the choice of alcohol can be varied as per personal preference, but this may alter the original taste.

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