HOMEMADE THAI ICE TEA
A few weeks ago I was out at girl’s night with friends. We were ordering take out from our local joint that sells Thai and Chinese food. And there it was, gleaming at me from the menu, my favorite drink: Thai Ice Tea. I could see it… that delicious bright orange tea with a layer of creamy white…. Wait what!!!! They wanted me to spend SEVEN DOLLARS for a damn tea?!!! I nearly lost my mind. Mind Lost.
Then the wheels start churning… Bianca , you MUST learn to make this stuff at home and ASAP! So I did a little Googling and found that low and behold there are lots and lots of great brands of Thai Tea one can in fact make at home. Hooray!!! I break out into a happy dance!
But, which brand should I choose out of the 15 I saw on Amazon? Reviews from random people aren’t that helpful anyway, but it’s particularly difficult when many aren’t in English. However, lucky for me I live in Los Angeles, which has a huge Thai town… so instead of making myself nuts, I decided to go on a little adventure! So off to the nearby and massive Asian supermarket I went.
Unfortunately or fortunately for me… not quite sure which… this market only had TWO kinds of the Thai Tea: Tisanes and PanTai. I had hoped for lots and lots to choose from, but after doing a survey (of the 4 or so employees that spoke with me) these two brands are the most popular versions of Thai tea… so I guess that made it easy. One is a loose tea that requires a tea bag/ball/strainer (PanTai) and the other is a on the go ready-made tea bag (Tisanes). I again stared at them for a while trying to decide which would be better…and again I had a thought… why not get both and just compare them on the blog. Win and Win!
But, before I left the store I also grabbed different forms of “creamer” to go with it. So side note… many of you know that I gave up on Cow’s milk/diary a while ago. I love the cow, but unfortunately it doesn’t love me back and abuses me via severe lactose intolerance. So that lovely heavy cream and milk that usually go into Thai Ice tea were literally NOT an option for me. SO I looked around at alternative “creams”: Soy, Coconut, Hazelnut, Rice milk, even Hemp milk. I decided to stick with the Thai flavors and go for Coconut…even though I really don’t like the taste of coconut… my sister has been trying for a while to get me to drink coconut milk. She SWORE to me it didn’t taste anything like coconut. SO I bought two Aroy-D shelf stable option from the Asian Market: 1) 100% coconut milk and 1) 100% coconut cream (each were like a dollar) and then later I happened to be at Trader Joes and saw that they had Coconut milk creamer so I picked that up just in case I need to have yet another option.
The steps to making this couldn’t be any simpler… It’s tea not rocket science. Boil water, prepare the tea and add sugar. The first brand I tried was Tisanes Thai Tea, which comes as individually wrapped tea bags. I added TWO bags to three cups of boiling water in a pot. Then, I used my handy Teavana tea ball to add 3 tablespoons of my loose tea option from PanTai Tea into 4 cups of hot water. – I added more water to the loose tea because it tends to be stronger and I wanted to make sure that it was a fair comparison. I also added ¼ cup of sugar to both pots — I don’t like my tea too sweet.
The result was two pots full of amazing tea! Both had that beautiful orange color (food coloring no doubt), but the Pantai was clearly much much darker in both color and flavor. However, that Tisanes tea was still super delicious and actually had a slightly more spiced flavor than the Pantai. However, Pantai had a richer and multi-layered flavor and is the one used at most restaurants! In the end the Pantai won the taste test with ease. However, I don’t always have time to make a huge pitcher of tea…so for that reason the Tisanes is actually my winner overall because now I can literally throw a few in my purse or in a desk. And Voila! Now I can enjoy amazing tea on the go.
So as I waited for the tea to cool down on the stove I tried all my different cream options. NOW, again I will say… I do not like the taste of coconut… and yes I see the irony in this. My favorite one was the TJ’s creamer because it tasted the least like coconut, was super smooth (which will come in handy this weekend when I make crab and shrimp bisque again). Seriously, this stuff is awesome and NOT sweet.
Second was the AROY-D brand 100% coconut milk. It was much thicker than that TJ brand and it also had a more distinct coconut taste to it, but not so much that I couldn’t get past it. Last, I tried that Aroy-D coconut cream. I clearly have no clue what coconut cream was… cause this wasn’t what I expected… a thick gelatin-like substance…clearly not gonna work in Thai tea… but maybe some ice cream? Hmmmm … will have to try that later I suppose.
All in all the experiment took me about 20 minutes of a Saturday morning and gave me a weeks worth of tea so far. Note… I put myself on a super strict regime: ONE cup of Thai tea a day or else it would have been gone in an hour. LOL!
I bought all of these products at 99 Ranch Market. I paid $5 for the Pantai loose tea. $ 2.50 for the Tisanes Tea Bags. $1.50 each for the Aroy-D Coconut milk and Cream. $1.50 for the TJ Coconut Creamer. All in all this was not an expensive experiment. So why not try it yourself? I have added the links below to how you can order these items on Amazon. But, do a little googling of your own….or better yet go to your local Asian market if you have one (it will be cheaper than online).
Pantai Loose Tea Mix
Tisanes Thai Tea Bags
Aroy-D Coconut Milk (or just buy regular milk/creamer)
Trader Joes Coconut Creamer – in the fridge case with rest of the milk
99 Ranch Market: Stores in California, Washington, Nevada, Texas. (But, check your local area for other Asian Market chains)