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Cha yen (drink)

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Cha yen means cold tea in Thai, and a lot of different cold tea-based drinks are found under this umbrella. The tea of choice is usually a very strongly brewed Ceylon tea. A less expensive alternative is the locally grown Bai Miang, a landrace version of Assam tea.

In Thailand, iced tea is often sweetened with sugar and flavored with fruits and herbs, e.g. tamarind seeds, star anise, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange blossom water. Adding milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk or coconut milk is also common.

Cha dam yen

Cha dam yen is known as Dark Thai Iced Tea in English. It is a strongly brewed tea sweetened with sugar and served over ice. Unlike many other versions of iced tea in Thailand, it doesn’t contain any milk.

Cha manau

Cha manau is a strongly brewed tea sweetened with sugar and flavored with lime, and sometimes also with mint. Just like cha dam yen, it is served over ice and contains no milk.

Recipe for Thai iced tea with evaporated milk

This recipe yields four big glasses of tea.

Ingredients list

  • 5 cups of water, divided
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¾ cup of Ceylon lose leaf tea
  • Enough ice cubs for four big glasses (filled 2/3 with ice)
  • 8 ounces of evaporated milk


  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat down to active simmer. Keep simmering until you have a thick liquid. (This will usually take about 5 minutes of simmering.) Remove from the heat and leave to cool down in room temperature.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a pot.
  3. Add ¾ cup of lose Ceylon tea to the pot and remove from the heat.
  4. The tea leaves will float to the top, so take a spoon and stir to make sure they all get wet.
  5. Leave the tea to steep for 3 minutes.
  6. Pour the tea into a pitcher. It doesn’t matter if the dregs goes into the pitcher or stays in the pot. Pour the tea back and forth between the pitcher and the pot seven times. The goal is to end up with a really strong and dark tea, in the pot.
  7. Rinse the pitcher to get any dregs out.
  8. Pour the tea through a coffee filter and into the pitcher.
  9. Stir in the sugar-syrup.
  10. Leave the tea to cool in room temperature or in the fridge.
  11. Place four glasses on a tray, and fill each glass two-thirds with ice cubes.
  12. Pour tea into each glass, and top off with 4 tablespoons of evaporated milk for each glass. It looks really nice when the pale milk cascades over the ice and swirls into the dark tea.