How to Buy Thai Tea

Thai tea is also known as Thai iced tea, "cha-yen", or ชาเย็น in Thai.[1] Served chilled, Thai tea consists of strongly brewed black tea with the addition of ingredients such as orange blossom water, star anise, vanilla, cinnamon, crushed tamarind seed, red, orange, or yellow food coloring, and other spices.[2] Sweeteners include sugar and honey. Condensed milk is the other main ingredient.

When making Thai tea at home, knowing what to look for when purchasing it is important to ensure quality and freshness. Here are some suggestions to help you choose a good Thai tea mix.


  1. Image titled Buy Thai Tea Step 1
    Look at the packaging for the Thai tea mix. If it has respected or known logos on it, that is a good start. In addition, the quality of the packaging can also be an indicator that it contains a decent product.
    • Read the marketing pitch on the reverse of the chosen tea mix. Ensure that the description of the product appeals to you.
    • Check the directions for making it up. Do you have to add a lot of your own ingredients or is a lot already added in the packet? The amount of effort you need to go to might influence your decision to purchase a particular brand of Thai tea mix.
  2. Image titled Buy Thai Tea Step 2
    Turn the package around. Try to see if there is dust on the bottom of the package; this may indicate care of the product during transit, and how long it has been on the shelf: the less dust, the better of the tea mix.
    • Do not buy the tea if the packaging appears damaged in any way.
  3. Image titled Buy Thai Tea Step 3
    Look at the inside of the package. If you see red color on the plastic bag, don't buy it. This means the manufacturer added tons of food coloring into the tea leaf. Take a look at your hands; you can probably also see your hands turning red if this is the case.
  4. Image titled Buy Thai Tea Step 4
    Look closely into the bag. Check to see if there are any very tiny animals or bugs crawling about. This would be a clear sign not to buy the tea. If you can't open the bag before purchase, return it if infested when you check it at home. Letting the retailer know that you will do this in advance may prompt them to prove to you it's okay before you leave the store!
  5. Image titled Buy Thai Tea Step 5
    Talk to baristas you know about their preferred Thai tea mix. Their opinion will be a very helpful guide as to a quality product. They may be able to see you some direct, or might even stock it as an item for sale in their cafe.


  • In East Asia, this drink may also be made from red tea.
  • You may prefer to purchase the syrup mix for Thai tea; this is very easy to use, although it is not authentic and does not get "brewed".

Things You'll Need

  • Thai tea mix selection at a suitable retailer

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Food Selection and Storage | Tea