We have been having a heat wave here in Minneapolis! It sounds like a contradiction, but it is true. The weather has been very tropical-like. We’ve had hot days in the 90s with lots of humidity, enough to make me feel like I’m in Florida, and sometimes these are punctuated by torrential rain. I’ve been grateful for the warm weather and how much it has helped all my flowers grow. It hasn’t been a typical Minnesota summer, but then again, this year hasn’t been a typical anything.
There are many things that have been absent this summer: the State Fair won’t happen in its usual scope and format; the local Farmer’s Market is mostly a drive-through outdoor market; the art fairs and outdoor concerts were cancelled; and we’ve missed out on the Water Lantern Festival and a lot of the events we usually attend were cancelled because of the pandemic. I have been trying to focus on the good things this summer, like living life at a slower pace, going to the lake, family time, and eating takeout on weekends. One of our favorite places for takeout dinner is a family-owned Thai restaurant about 10 blocks from where we live. Their dishes are amazing! One evening during the heat wave, we decided to try some of their iced drinks, and we discovered the deliciousness of Thai iced tea. After this visit, every time we had a free evening, we found ourselves yearning for a glass of this sunset-colored drink. It is sweet, slightly earthy, creamy, and refreshing. It was so good that sometimes we just ordered the drinks and no food as a snack for those very hot evenings. Finally, I came to the conclusion that if I liked this drink so much, it might be more practical to make it at home by the pitcher. I am often inspired by foods that I’ve tried in the past in my home country or when traveling here locally in the Twin Cities, but I never really have the courage to think that I can make them at home. Most dishes in restaurants are fancy and take a lot of different ingredients I don’t have or a technique I may not have mastered yet, so I leave those dishes for my takeout or dining-out experiences.
However, a drink is something that I can replicate at home! As luck would have it, my husband and I were pretty successful in replicating this beverage we love so much and I am here to share the recipe with you. It’s really simple and it’s really, really fast. Basically, you make a pitcher of tea with a Thai tea blend and then you sweeten it with sugar and evaporated milk. Some people like to make Thai iced tea using condensed milk instead of evaporated milk and sugar. You can go that route if you like, and you will still achieve a very similar flavor. However, if you are looking to present this pitcher of tea to guests with flair, pouring the evaporated milk into the pitcher of tea creates a bit of a sensation with its cloud of creaminess blending in with the tea. In these pandemic days, when anything extra adds a little bit of specialness to the day, I decided to go with the evaporated milk version. I’m sharing the recipe with you in case you need to mix it up and have a really cool, refreshing drink on one of these summer nights.
Thai Iced Tea
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Chill time: 4-6 hours
Servings: Makes 1 pitcher, or 14-16 servings
- 13 tsp Thai tea blend (you can buy it here)
- 10 cups water
- 20-23 tbs + ¼ cup sugar
- 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
- In a saucepan or soup pot bring 10 cups water to boil. When it reaches a boiling point, turn off the heat.
- Add the tea blend to the boiling water. Mix in with a spoon. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. If you want a milder flavor, steep closer to 3 or 4 minutes. If you want an earthier flavor to your beverage, steep for 6 or 7 minutes.
- Pour the tea into a pitcher, using a sieve to strain out the tea leaves.
- While the tea is still hot, add the sugar to the pitcher, stirring well until dissolved.
- Place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours, until fully chilled.
- Pour the evaporated milk into the pitcher right before serving so your guests can see the creamy clouds blending with the orange tea. If this is too creamy for you, you can always use less evaporated milk.
- Pour over ice and serve. This drink is almost as good as a dessert, and can be served as such.