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Entry from January 18, 2019
Thai Iced Tea (Cha Yen)

"Thai iced tea” or “Thai tea” (cha yen) is of unknown origin; the tea began appearing in Thai-American restaurants in the 1970s and 1980s. Thai tea is made with sugar and condensed milk, and evaporated milk is poured over the tea and ice before serving.

‘Try Some Thai Tea” was printed in the Los Angeles (CA) Times on August 20, 1977. “I recommend Thai ice tea containing herbs and spices. The Thai people drink it with sweetened condensed milk blended in” was printed in the Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser (Honolulu, HI) on March 12, 1978. A recipe for “Thai Tea” was printed in the Los Angeles (CA) Times on September 28, 1978.

Wikipedia: Thai tea
Thai tea, also known as Thai iced tea (Thai: ชาเย็น, RTGS: cha yen, [t͡ɕʰāː jēn] (About this soundlisten), lit. “cold tea"), is a Thai cold or hot drink made from tea, milk and sugar. It is popular in Southeast Asia and is served in many restaurants that serve Thai food.

The drink is made from strongly brewed Ceylon tea, or a locally grown landrace (traditional or semi-wild) version of Assam known as Bai Miang (ใบเมี่ยง). Other ingredients may include added orange blossom water, star anise, crushed tamarind seed or red and yellow food coloring, and sometimes other spices as well.

The tea is sweetened with sugar and condensed milk and served chilled. Evaporated milk, coconut milk or whole milk is poured over the tea and ice before serving to add taste and creamy appearance. Condensed milk and sugar may also be mixed with the tea before it is poured over ice and then topped with evaporated milk. In Thai restaurants, it is served in a tall glass, but when sold from street and market stalls in Thailand it may be poured over the crushed ice in a plastic bag or tall plastic cups.

30 August 1977, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Fifty-Four Hours” by Loretta Kuklinksy Huerta, You sec., pg. 16, col. 3:
TRY SOME THAI TEA—Chao Praya restaurant, 6307-6309 Yucca St., corner of Vine St., Hollywood. Open until 1:30 a.m. Prices moderate. Call 464-9652. They serve a silky ice tea made with cream and mint—great with spicy Thai treats.

Google Books
À la Vôtre
Volume 8
March-April 1978
Pg. 209:
Thai Tea (75c) was fascinating in its almost chocolate-like fragrance.

12 March 1978, Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser (Honolulu, HI), “Thai cuisine at Mekong,” Dining Out sec., pg. 5, col. 2:
(Mekong Restaurant, 1295 South Beretania Street.—ed.)
For a refreshing and cooling drink, I recommend Thai ice tea containing herbs and spices. The Thai people drink it with sweetened condensed milk blended in—with or without, it is a delight.

28 September 1978, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Culinary SOS: Thai Tea Secret Found at Last” by Rose Dosti, pt. 6, pg. 6, col. 3:
DEAR MELINDA: Owners of the Bangkok Market and the Krung Tep Thai restaurant finally came through with a recipe after a year long search among Thais who kept their tea recipes secret. Thai tea, purchased at a Thai market, is a must.

8 cups water
6 tablespoons Thai tea
Sugar to taste
Ice cubes
Half and half or sweetened condensed milk

Bring water to a boil. Add tea and steep 5 minutes. Strain and add sugar to taste. Cool, then chill in refrigerator. When ready to serve, add ice cubes to each of six tall glasses. Pour tea over ice to come 1/2 inch of the rim. Fill with half and half or to taste. Makes 6 servings.

13 January 1980, Los Angeles (C) Times, “Marina Menu,” Calendar sec., pg. 100, col. 1:
(Siamese Garden, 301 Washington Street, Marina del Rey.—ed.)
In any case, there is also Thai beer and Coors available, as well as Thai-style iced tea or coffee.

8 May 1980, Women’s Wear Daily (New York, NY), “Eye” by Dale Kern, pg. 6, col. 1:
But the guests had to wind their way (...) to dine on stuffed squab, meekrob (a Thai noodle dish), Thai iced tea and chocolate strawberries.

27 August 1981, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Let’s Eat Out: Chan Dara: It’s Worth It” by Rose Dosti, pt. 8, pg. 33, col. 1:
(House of Chan Dara, 1511 North Cahuenga Boulevard, Hollywood.—ed.)
Thai beer, or rather sweet Thai iced tea, will help wash it all down smoothly.

10 September 1981, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Cuisine of Thailand: Blend of Sweet and Sour, Salty and Spicy” by Barbara Hansen, pt. 8, pg. 26, col. 1:
1/2 cup Thai tea leaves
5 cups water
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup sugar
Crushed ice
1 cup half and half

Place tea in cloth coffee filter bag with handle. Bring water to a boil in large, deep saucepan. Pour boiling water through bag into another deep container. Now pour tea back through bag into saucepan. Repeat, pouring water through tea at least 6 times. Let cool slightly. Add milk and sugar. Pack tall glasses with crushed ice. Fill glasses with tea mixture to within 1 inch of top, Using about 3/4 cup tea mixture for each serving. Top tea with 2 tablespoons half and half. Serve with straws. Makes 8 servings.

20 January 1983, San Diego (CA) Union, “North County Spotlight” by Doug Verkaaik, North County panorama sec., pg. 9, col. 1:
(Thai Palace, El Camino Avenue and Mission Avenue, Oceanside.—ed.)
I tried the Thai Ice Tea. No, that’s really different, it’s a special blend of Thai tea and milk.

14 October 1983, Detroit (MI) Free Press, “Thai cuisine tempts the adventurous” by Molly Abraham, pg. 8C, col. 3:
(Siam Kitchen, 2509 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor.—ed.)
Thai iced tea is more authentic. It’s quite sweet, a mixture of jasmine tea with sugar and honey. Evaporated milk is poured at the last moment.

10 October 1985, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Let’s Eat Out: Thai Touch on Melrose” by Barbara Hansen, pt. 8, pg. 37, col. 1:
(Bussarakum, 7353 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles.—ed.)
But you can’t go elsewhere for Bussarakum punch, a bright blend of juices that goes exceptionally well with spicy food, perhaps better than the pervasive milky Thai iced tea.

Google Books
Thai Home-Cooking from Kamolmal’s Kitchen
By William R. Crawford and Kamolmal Pootaraksa
New York, NY: Plume
1986, ©1985
Pg. 279:
Thai Iced Tea CHA YEN
Thai iced tea is a very sweet, milky drink to which some people are absolutely addicted. It is one of those foods that you either like a great deal or don’t care for at all. Please use only Thai tea, because it blends with the two types of milk much better than any other kind. Standard tea will, to put it simply, create a disaster.

Google Books
Real Thai:
The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking

By Nancie McDermott
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books
Pg. 74:
Thai Iced Tea
In America’s Thai restaurants, this cool, sweet treat converts many a timid first-timer to a Thai food fanatic on the spot. Cha yen, or “cold tea,” is made from a special Thai blend of chopped black tea leaves flavored and perfumed with star anise, cinnamon, vanilla, and other sweet spices. A little food coloring gives it its signature terra-cotta hue.

Authentic Thai iced tea recipe (cha yen ชาเย็น) - street food style
Mark Wiens
Published on May 22, 2014
You’re going to love this authentic Thai iced tea recipe (cha yen ชาเย็น), it’s easy to make and always refreshing. Get the full recipe here: http://wp.me/p4a4F7-2kh

Food & Wine
All The Things You Really Should Know About Thai Iced Tea
Starting with the fact that it’s not very Thai.

PRIYA KRISHNA April 06, 2017
Tea is a relatively new phenomenon in Thailand, brought in by the Chinese in the 1980s to supplant opium as a cash crop and thereby curb drug trafficking. It’s unclear, exactly, when Thai tea (known in Thailand as Cha Yen)—a mixture of black tea, condensed milk, and sometimes ice—was invented, though many suspect it was a lingering influence from Field Marshal Pibul Songkram, a Thai leader with a penchant for western culture (hence the ice and milk). The tea became a staple of Thai street food culture, sometimes spiced with star anise and orange blossom water, but more often than not, served without any additional flavorings.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Friday, January 18, 2019 • Permalink