Every April 21, our friends across the pond in the UK celebrate National Tea Day. While it’s not an official holiday per se, it’s a fun day to promote tea and the culture of drinking tea as it exists among the Brits.
Of course, the culture of drinking tea isn’t just limited to our British friends. Tea is a drink enjoyed worldwide, and every country that consumes tea has its own way of enjoying it. Thailand has its own tea culture too. And so, on National Tea Day, we celebrate the joy that is Thai tea.
What makes Thai tea different from other teas?
Just like in most cases, tea came to Thailand by way of China. But the Thai people apparently weren’t satisfied with drinking tea the way the Chinese do. Instead, they have made the drink truly their own by taking the basic brew and adding to it their own special touch.
So, what makes Thai tea so different and special? If you have enjoyed Thai tea before, you’d know that it generally comes with a pink or orange color. But here’s a fact that may take you by surprise—the base of Thai tea is actually black Ceylon tea.
Ah, but you may be asking: If Thai tea is essentially black tea, why does it have such a bright and pretty color? Here’s the answer: Thai tea has spices in it. Usually the tea is brewed with star anise and tamarind seed, though some recipes call for cardamom and cloves, while others add lemon and mint. The tea leaves react to these spices and transform the color of the tea.
The tea is then mixed with milk and sugar, then poured over crushed ice (never cubed ice) in a glass. Of course, if you want it hot, you can skip the crushed ice. And if you want a stronger brew, you can do away with milk and sugar altogether.
Sounds yummy, yes?
Enjoying Thai tea
One curious thing about Thai tea is that, while Stateside restaurants serve it up fancy and all, it’s considered street food in Thailand. You can easily find a street stall in Bangkok that offers this drink. The tea is usually poured in a plastic bag. A straw is then stuck at the open end of the bag before that end is tied. Afterwards, you can walk around sipping your iced tea.
Here in the US, if you want Thai tea, you can simply drop by a restaurant that serves Thai food and order the drink. At Asian Mint and EnjoyMint, we have our own delicious blend.
Can you make Thai tea at home? Of course, you can. You can find plenty of Thai tea recipes online. Basically, you just need to brew black tea with spices like star anise and tamarind seed. If you can’t find them, lemon and mint will do. Let the tea steep, and then strain it with cheesecloth so you can have just the liquid in your glass. After that, you can pour your tea in a glass filled with crushed ice. Then you can make it creamy with either evaporated milk, condensed milk, half-and-half, or even coconut milk. Whether you add sugar to your drink is entirely up to you.
So there you have it. Happy National Tea Day, and we hope you enjoy it with a glass of refreshing Thai tea. Remember, if you can’t make it at home, you can always drop by Asian Mint.
See you there!