How To Make Thai Iced Tea

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

Here's the drink I'll be sipping on all summer along. Thai iced tea! I used to reserve this refreshing drink to combat the heat when I ordered spicy curries at Thai restaurants, but not anymore. I recently discovered that making your own Thai iced tea is surprisingly easy.

What kind of tea should you use?

Traditionally Thai iced tea is made with red Thai tea leaves, but they can be somewhat hard to find outside of Thailand. Instead, regular black tea makes a fine substitute. Many Thai restaurants in the U.S. also use regular black tea (with red food coloring) to make their Thai iced tea.

A note on red Thai tea leaves.

Red Thai tea leaves are very small and almost powdery, so a regular tea strainer won't do; for Thai tea, you need to strain it in cloth. I purchased this Thai iced tea "sock" from, but one could easily make their own with some cotton squares!

How is Thai iced tea different than regular iced tea?

Thai iced tea is a real treat. While regular iced tea can be somewhat mild, and served with the option of sweetened or unsweetened, Thai iced tea is more concentrated and flavorful. This special drink is infused with star anise and cloves, which add a warm, spiced aroma. It's sweetened with a touch of sugar, then topped off with a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk.

How To Make Thai Iced Tea

Serves 4

What You Need

5 cups water
6 bags black tea or red Thai tea, or 1 1/2 tablespoons loose tea
2 star anise
3 whole cloves
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

Medium saucepan
Measuring spoons
Tall glasses


  1. Boil the water: Bring the water to a boil in medium saucepan.
  2. Steep the tea: Remove the pan from the heat. Place the tea bags, star anise and cloves in the water, and make sure they are completely submerged. Steep for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the tea bags: Use a large spoon or a strainer to remove the tea bags, star anise, and cloves.
  4. Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until it's completely dissolved.
  5. Cool the tea: Let the tea cool to room temperature.
  6. To serve: Use tall glasses and fill each with ice cubes. Fill each glass 3/4 of the way full with tea. Add one tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk to each glass, and stir to combine. Drink immediately.

Recipe Note

  • The tea base can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.

This post has been updated — first published March 2010.

(Image credits: Kelli Dunn)

Per serving, based on 4 servings. (% daily value)
1.7 g (2.6%)
1.1 g (5.3%)
0 g
16.8 g (5.6%)
0 g (0.2%)
16.7 g
1.5 g (3%)
6.5 mg (2.2%)
36.5 mg (1.5%)