Every time we eat at my favorite Thai restaurant, the servers know I’m going to order a Thai Iced Tea with my dinner. They also know which table I prefer and so they do their best to give it to us when we dine there. That is how friendly and thoughtful the Thai people are. When we are in the Philippines and are at a Thai restaurant, I never fail to order a refreshing glass of Thai Iced Tea. The sweet beverage goes well with Thai food, Filipino food and most Asian dishes.
The past two weeks the world was riveted to the news in Thailand about the 12 boys from a soccer team and their coach who were found trapped in a cave in the province of Chiang Rai. I was glued to the news when the team’s extraction from the caves were done with the efforts of skilled divers from around the world and locally in Thailand. As a parent, I could not bear to think how the families of these 12 boys and their coach felt. The plans to take them out of the cave sounded treacherous. But the impossible became possible. And now as I write this, there is joyful news that the boys, the coach and the divers are all safe.
Before this world event unfolded, and totally unrelated to any news, I made my own Thai Iced Tea at home because we were going through a heat wave here on the east coast. Like the rest of you, I can’t always go to the restaurant to order my favorite beverage. But I found a way to make it at home. My friend, author Nancie McDermott had a recipe in her cookbook Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking which was easy to follow.
If you’ve never had a tall, refreshing glass of Thai Iced Tea before, the sweltering summer days are a good reason for you to try it. The difference between a Thai Iced Tea drink from a usual iced tea is that the Thai beverage is more flavorful, more concentrated and sweeter. When I order it at a restaurant, the drink arrives at my table with graduated colors of the milk on top and the dark tea at the lower half of the glass. As I stir the drink with a long spoon, and the ice cubes clink happily in the glass, the milk and dark tea combine to produce a caramel-colored beverage. The pleasant, light herbal tea aroma floating from the glass does not escape me, too. The drink is refreshing and immediately quenches my parched feeling. I sense hints of star anise and perhaps cinnamon in it. Ever since I learned to make this Thai Iced Tea at home, I’ve made it often especially during the warm summer months. Today, I raise my chilled glass and toast to Thailand’s Wild Boars, their coach, the divers who volunteered and all who helped in this amazing rescue. This experience showed us that when the world comes together in hope and faith, we can accomplish so much.
Thai Iced Tea
- 4 cups boiling water
- 2 Tablespoons powder or loose leaf or use 4 bags black tea organic powdered black tea loose leaf or black tea bags
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 star section of a whole pod star anise
- 1 cup evaporated milk divided half a cup for each glass evaporated milk
- for each glass: ice cubes
- In a medium-sized stockpot, over high heat, boil 4 cups of water. Add the tea. Stir for the tea to combine with the water. Add the cinnamon and star anise. Lower the heat and continue simmering for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove the stockpot from the stovetop. Add sugar to the tea. Stir to dissolve. Set aside for the tea to cool to room temperature.
- Using a fine-mesh strainer, pour the tea into a pitcher or two tall glasses.
- Fill the glasses with ice cubes. Pour the tea into the glasses at nearly ¾ full.
- Slowly pour the evaporated milk into the glass. Serve immediately while chilled.
- Cook’s comments: If evaporated milk is not available, use regular whole milk, half-and-half, low fat or even coconut milk if desired. You can also use sweetened condensed milk but omit the sugar in the recipe.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary depending on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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