Thai Milk Tea is ordered by asking for Cha Yen (transliterated meaning Cold Tea). Thai people do not drink much hot tea with milk because it is so hot in Thailand. So cold Thai milk tea is a very common drink which you can buy from street drinks stalls on every street.
Thai Milk Tea is nothing like the tea you might be used to because it is not simply tea with milk and usually is not made with fresh milk either.
If you are looking for other similar drinks, here is our post on how to make Green Tea with Boba.
List of Ingredients for Thai Milk Tea with Chewy Boba
- Thai Tea Mix
- Brown Sugar
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Evaporated Milk
- Soft Brown Sugar
- Crushed Ice
- Boba Tapioca Bubbles in Caramel
We have a post on how to make homemade brown sugar boba if you prefer to make it instead of buying it. It is super simple.
Video on How to Make Authentic Thai Milk Tea with Boba
- List of Ingredients for Thai Milk Tea with Chewy Boba
- Video on How to Make Authentic Thai Milk Tea with Boba
- Why You Want to Make Homemade Thai Milk Tea With Boba
- What is Cha Yen?
- What is Thai Milk Tea Made From?
- What is Thai Boba Tea?
- How to Make Thai Milk Tea (Quantities in Recipe Below)
- How to Prepare Your Boba for Thai Tea with Boba
- How to Make Boba Milk Tea or Thai Bubble Tea
- How to Drink Thai Boba Milk Tea
- Thai Milk Tea Recipe & Boba Milk Tea Recipe
- Frequently Asked Questions about Thai Milk Tea and Boba Milk Tea
Why You Want to Make Homemade Thai Milk Tea With Boba
- Easy and quick once you know the method
- Cheaper to make at home than buy from the shop
- More authenticity and deliciousness when made at home, with love
- The kids love it, grandparents will love it, everyone has to love it, right?
What is Cha Yen?
Cha Yen is the Thai Milk Tea that is usually orange in color and made from tea mixed with several herbs and spices, evaporated milk, condensed milk & creamer. It is usually quite orange in color, served over ice and very sweet.
The tea used to make the drink is sold as Thai Tea Mix and there are several brands. Roadside vendors may use one brand of tea mix or mix two or more brands together to try to get a more original taste.
The Tea is brewed and then combined with a mix of condensed milk and usually sweetened even further with liquid sugar in the form of simple sugar, honey, brown sugar, or other sweeteners.
It is almost sweet enough without the additional sugar hit, but some Thais like their drinks sickeningly sweet! We add a limited amount of brown sugar for what seems the best balance but you may adjust the sweetness to your own taste. Just experiment!
What is Thai Milk Tea Made From?
Thai milk tea is made using Thai Milk Tea Mix which should be differentiated from Thai Green tea Mix which is for a totally different drink.
Thai Milk Tea Mix contains a blend of herbs and spices and coloring that make Thai Tea somewhat unique. It is ready mixed tea with herbs and spices which makes it easier to make the drink and there are several brands with slightly different taste profiles.
After the tea is brewed a mix of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk is mixed together and added to the brewed tea together with sugar and creamer into a glass filled with ice. On top of that, frothed evaporated milk is added!
For an added twist you can also replace the condensed milk with coconut cream or part coconut cream and coconut milk for a different tasting, but equally creamy tea.
What is Thai Boba Tea?
Thai Boba Tea is variously known as Thai Bubble Tea, Thai Milk Pearl Tea, Boba Thai Tea, Boba Milk Tea, and Thai Tea with Boba. All the various names refer to Thai Milk Tea to which boba is added. There are numerous other drinks that have boba as well as desserts but for our purposes here we are using it to make Thai Milk Tea with Boba
For most street vendors the boba is made using store-bought boba balls which are dried tapioca starch balls, which then have to be soaked and boiled to hydrate into a slightly sticky, chewy, gelatinous chewy ball. It might sound weird but it is all the rage!
Sometimes you can find a more upmarket stall or specialty shop selling boba milk teas of various varieties. That means different varieties of tea, including regular tea leaves added to the Thai tea mix and boba that have been given more VIP treatment in preparation.
Since boba tapioca pearls are fairly tasteless, specialty shops will spend additional effort in preparation to make them tastier and which we will cover in a future article.
How to Make Thai Milk Tea (Quantities in Recipe Below)
Step 1 – Brewing the Tea
Brew the tea by adding boiling water to Thai Tea Mix in a brewing sock or other appropriate strainer. The water and resulting part brewed tea is repassed through the sock multiple times to thoroughly brew the tea and maximize taste.
Step 2 – Mixing The Milk
Mix together equal quantities of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in a small jug. A glass measuring jug is both the easiest and most common tool to use for this because it is easy to use and you can see what you are doing better.
Step 3 – Frothing the Milk
Grab a milk frother, in Thailand, the street vendors usually use a small stainless steel jug with an inbuilt circular lid and plunger fitted with a coiled whisk which is rapidly pushed up and down to froth the milk.
Froth more evaporated milk in the frother.
Step 4 – Adding Ice
Take a tall cup and fill with reasonably well ice crushed – the smaller it is crushed the less tea will fit in and the more tea it will look like you are getting for your money (haha!) Sometimes you wonder if they are selling tea or very expensive ice – but I digress.
Step 5 – Mixing the Tea & Serve
Pour the evaporated and sweetened condensed milk mixture into the tea and stir. Add a tablespoon each of brown sugar and creamer and mixes together well.
Brown sugar adds a little depth to the drink but you can leave it out altogether or adjust the amount to your taste as you want. The creamer gives the tea is smooth taste but once again you can leave this out if you prefer. The drink will taste a little less smooth but it still tastes perfectly fine and that is how one of our family prefers it.
Pour the sweet, milky tea into the cup full of crushed ice and watch the ice start to melt, topping up with more ice as necessary
Stir the tea thoroughly together and then top off with the frothy evaporated milk you made or mix the tea into a homogenous color before adding the frothy milk topping.
How to Prepare Your Boba for Thai Tea with Boba
If you want to make Boba Milk Tea or Thai Bubble Tea as it is sometimes called, then you need to get yourself some Boba and ready it for use.
Boba is simply tapioca starch that is made into a ball and sold as dehydrated balls in most Asian stores or you can find it online.
Boba Prep Step 1 – Boil the Boba
Before using the Boba, you will need to prepare it by boiling it in water for 30-40 minutes, stirring often, to ensure the tapioca bubble balls do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
The Boba changes color as it cooks and so do not be surprised to find the boba balls you bought because they matched the color of your tabby cat, have turned black as they cooked!
Boba Prep Step 2 – Steep the Boba
Let the Boba sit in its cooking water with the lid on for 20 minutes or so.
Boba Prep Step 3 – Rinse the Boba
After the Boba has been boiled and stood for a while it is ready for rinsing off with cold water which helps stop it all sticking together and also stops it cooking further.
At this point, those hard balls you bought will have turned into a chewy but soft, jelly-like, slippery, glutinous collection like artistic frog spawn.
They are now ready to be used in your drink.
Boba Prep Step 4 – Making the Caramel
To make the caramel we simply heat up a little water into which you dissolve brown sugar and then turn off the heat. Add in a little honey to add depth to the caramel sauce stirring it to combine and mix with the boba to coat.
You then end up with a sweet caramel coated boba to drop into the bottom of your Thai milk tea for boba milk tea. Simples!
How to Make Boba Milk Tea or Thai Bubble Tea
This is the type of Thai Milk Tea, that you would normally get if you ordered Cha Yen from a Thai Street Food vendor.
All you need to do to make Boba Milk Tea is to prepare the Boba and then add it into the cup before you add the ice in step 4 above.
You may stir up the Boba in the tea before adding the frothing as well if you want to pretty it up. And adding Boba on top of the froth is yet another serving option.
Whichever way you do it you will now have made Thai Boba Milk Tea. Just add your Boba Straws and you are ready to go.
How to Drink Thai Boba Milk Tea
It might sound a funny thing to talk about but a glass full of ice with deliciously sweet milk tea swirling on top of your boba does not make it very easy to get the boba into your mouth.
No worries the simple answer is a straw. Now you could try a regular straw and try to spear your boba with the end or use the scientific principles of suction to try to tease it out. Or just get yourself a boba straw that's specially made just big enough. Suck it up and see!
Thai Milk Tea Recipe & Boba Milk Tea Recipe
Thai Milk Tea (Cha Yen) & Boba Milk TeaPin Recipe
For Thai Milk Tea
- 1/2 cup Drinking Water
- 1 tbsp Thai Tea Mix
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 tbsp Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 4 tbsp Evaporated Milk
- 1 tbsp Creamer
- 1 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar You can compare demerara and soft brown sugar tastes – either work
- Crushed Ice
For Boba Iced Tea
- 4 tbsp Boba Tapioca Bubbles in Caramel Boiled and rinsed.
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 1.5 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
- 1.5 tbsp Water
For Thai Milk Tea (Cha Yen)
- Boil the drinking water.
- Add one tablespoon of Thai Tea Mix into the straining sock and hold over a heatproof measuring jug.
- Slowly pour enough water on top of the tea in the straining sock until you have about 1/2 cup water in the heatproof measuring jug.
- Move the tea strainer with the wet tea mix over a second jug and pour the hot tea through the strainer again
- Repeat the process of pouring the resulting tea through the straining sock with tea, from jug to jug, a further two to three times to thoroughly extract the flavor from the tea mix.
- After the tea brewing transfer from jug to jug leave the tea sock in the final tea jug to further steep for 5 minutes.
- After the tea has brewed and steeped for 5 minutes remove the tea sock. Stir in the tablespoon of brown sugar into the tea until dissolved. Then stir in the tablespoon of creamer until thoroughly dissolved.
- Mix together 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk with 2 tablespoons of evaporated milk. Add to the sweetened tea – either let it naturally mix or stir together as you you please.
- Pour the finished Thai Milk Tea into a tall glass completely filled with crushed ice until three-quarters full
- The hot tea will melt the ice a little so add a couple more ice cubes
- Top off with evaporated milk that has been frothed in a frothing jug or similar. Do not stir again before serving
- Boba swells slightly on cooking. You will need as much boba as you will use for one day as it does not keep its consistency very well.
- TIP – If you do have some leftover, then add a little sugar syrup or caramelized sugar syrup to coat and keep in the fridge. Microwave the following day for a few seconds to warm and the boba will be usable though not perfect.
- Put the purchased boba balls into a pot of slowly boiling water and stir thoroughly. Continue to boil for about 30 minutes or so stirring intermittently.
- After boiling turn off the heat and leave to sit in the hot water with a lid on the saucepan for a further 20 minutes.
- Strain out the cooked boba into a strainer over the sink and rinse thoroughly with cool water. This stops the boba cooking further and helps keep the bubbles separated better.
- Transfer to a storage jar. If you store at room temperature the bubbles will be less chewy but softer. If you put into the fridge then the bubbles will be harder and chewier. Your choice!
- To make the Boba Thai Tea add 2-3 tablespoons of bubbles into your glass before adding the crushed ice. Top up with tea and the milk mix and top off with frothed condensed milk as in the main tea recipe above.
- Optionally you can add a few boba bubbles to the top of the Thai Iced Milk Tea just to make it look nice. Serve.
Making Caramel Sauce for Boba
- Add the sugar and water into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar into the water.
- As soon as the sugar has dissolved, turn off the gas and add in the honey, stirring to mix together.
- Note: This will make more caramel than you need but is about the smallest quantity you can feasibly make. Depending on how much you add to the boba, it should be enough for 3 cups of boba balls Iced Boba Milk Tea.
Finishing the Boba
- Mix the caramel with the boba and stir to coat it ready for use for Boba Milk Tea
Planning on Making this Recipe?
It would be great if you could take a picture of your finished creation and share it out on Instagram. Tag me with #TASTYTHAIEATS – I love to see your ideas!
Frequently Asked Questions about Thai Milk Tea and Boba Milk Tea
What is Thai Milk Tea Made Of?
Thai Milk Tea is made from brewed tea with evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, sugar and creamer. The tea is a mix of black tea leaves, vanilla and several other natural flavorings together with annatto extract which provides the color. It is served over lots of ice.
Why is Thai Milk Tea Orange?
Thai Milk Tea is colored, partly to make it look pretty and partly to distinguish if for marketing purposes. Thai Tea Mix which is used to bre the tea, contains annatto which is a coloring obtained from the achiote or atsuete tree which is a deep red color which turns orange when milk is added.
What Does Thai Milk Tea Taste Like?
Thai Milk Tea has a bold, sweet, creamy and aromatic taste from the spices and flavorings added to the black tea leaves which are used to brew it. The addition of evaporated and condensed milk, sugar and creamer make the tea creamy and sweet as well as aromatic and flavorful.
Is Boba Bad For Health?
Boba is tapioca starch which is almost pure starch and so simply carbohydrate. It has no significant vitamins or minerals that are healthy and contains practically no fiber. That does not make it bad or good for health in itself. Boba is often covered with caramel or other sweet additives that are not particularly healthy though because of their sugar content.
What Makes Thai Tea Different?
Thai tea can be very similar to other teas if you are comparing pure tea leaves. Many people's idea of Thai tea is the tea which is served when you ask for Thai Iced Tea. This orange colored tea is not just tea but contains a coloring as well as spices which completely change the flavor.
Added to this it is made with a lot of evaporated and condensed milk and a lot of sweetning, rather than a small amount of added cows milk as British style hot tea is served.
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I am a Thai mum and love cooking for my children. Over the years, I have taken my family recipes as well as ones borrowed from friends and adapted them to make them even tastier. I publish my authentic Thai Food Recipes here for all to enjoy around the world. When I get a chance to travel I publish information to help others visiting Thailand.