Two delicious ways to use up that Thai tea mix in the cupboard? Make Thai Iced Tea and No-Churn Thai Tea Ice Cream!
One of the most interesting surprises brought about by the ECQ in Manila is my newfound love for making drinks. I made coffee drinks mostly, but I reckon if we didn’t have that liquor ban, I would’ve made a handful of cocktails as well.
One of my new favorite things to make is Thai Iced Tea, particularly this recipe I’m sharing today. I had forgotten that I bought a pack of Cha Tra Mue Thai tea mix a while back, and when I was rearranging my baking supply cabinet I was almost shocked that I had it in there lol.
And because there was nothing better to do, I jumped right into making Thai Iced Tea. It was one of the best decisions I made the entire ECQ. No joke. I fell so in love with making Thai Iced Tea, I actually decided to make an ice cream version as well. Both recipes worked out so nicely I was encouraged to make a cupcake version afterwards! (The recipe of which I will share in a few days.) It was literally the best chain reaction I could ever have hoped for.
It’s funny how since beginning my recipe blogging journey, I’ve largely ignored the world of drinks. It wasn’t intentional. My attention was just a bit too absorbed in bakes and eats. But because I had time during the Community Quarantine to do some experimentation, I was able to learn how to make quite a handful of things that made my house feel like a little home café. (See specimen A & B. If you’re ready to level up from a Thai Iced Tea, try out the super delish Black Tie Coffee recipe I have!)
Thai Iced Tea is definitely one of my favorites. Super simple, and super refreshing. It’s cool and just sweet enough to bring a smile on your face, especially on a hot day. And let me tell you what else is perfect for a hot day: Thai Tea Ice Cream.
This version is a no-churn recipe that captures all the yummy flavors of Thai Iced Tea into a creamy, delicious ice cream. Now I can’t believe I’ve managed to tolerate those instant Thai Tea mixes. It’s pretty cool how many Thai tea based recipes one can actually make with just one pack of Cha Tra Mue Thai tea leaves.
Thai Iced Tea
To me, this Thai Iced Tea recipe is perfection. Making it with the ratios provided by Oh How Civilized, the resulting drink is incredibly refreshing and delicious. I have actually started to use this as a benchmark for the Thai Iced Teas I buy from local milk tea stores, and maybe I’m biased but very rarely do I encounter anything as good. The difference comes in taking a few extra steps in both the tea base and the milk.
Mixing in some good quality black tea with the Thai tea mix when making the drink is one of the biggest factors, I think. You can use anything from Assam to Earl Grey, although Ceylon will give it hints of Hong Kong Milk Tea flavors. The tea gives the drink a bolder and more complex taste compared to using purely the Thai tea mix. So basically you need water, Thai tea mix, black tea, and sugar. Mix it all together and steep for 5 minutes.
If you don’t have black tea, you can use purely the Thai tea mix, but I highly encourage going out of your way and adding the black tea. Having tried both versions, to my tastebuds there is a difference. I have also tried this recipe with green tea in a pinch and while the flavor isn’t as intense, it will work. The addition of a loose-leaf tea just makes the Thai Iced Tea better overall. Strain your tea and leave it to cool completely.
The second extra step is with the milk. You combine the evaporated milk with the condensed milk in a freezer-safe glass and pop that in the freezer until it turns icy. We’re not freezing the milk, just chilling it to the point ice crystals start to form on top. Then we froth it until aerated and doubled in volume. This makes the Thai tea creamier. If you’re wondering if you can use ordinary milk in place of the evaporated milk, I will tell you now IT WILL NOT TASTE THE SAME.
The fact that we’re frothing or aerating this milk mixture contributes to that beautifully creamy texture. Your milk will double in volume and all that added air will make the drink feel a bit lighter as well, rather than heavy and weighed down, if you know what I mean.
The recipe I’m sharing below is good for 2 glasses of Thai Iced Tea, and if you divide the tea and the milk evenly between two glasses, it makes for two cups of perfectly flavored and balanced Thai Iced Tea.
It’s the right amount of sweetness and milkiness. You can easily build up from this base recipe and double, triple, quadruple it as you like. It’s really good. The fact that I’ve said THIS much about it is proof.
Thai Iced Tea
- 2 1/4 cups 540 mL hot water
- 2 tablespoons 12 grams Thai tea leaves mix
- 1 tablespoon 2 grams loose-leaf black tea*
- 2 tablespoons 25 grams brown sugar
- 1/2 cup 120 mL evaporated milk
- 2 tablespoons 40 grams sweetened condensed milk
- Ice cubes
- In a measuring cup, saucepan, or teapot, mix together hot water, Thai tea leaves mix, black tea, and brown sugar. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, then strain. Leave to cool at room temperature or inside the fridge.
- Meanwhile, whisk together evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in a freezer safe glass. Freeze mixture for 20 minutes or more, until you see a crystallized layer forming around the sides of the glass. Now use a frother to whisk the mixture until it nearly doubles in volume and becomes aerated. (You can also use a whisk.)
- To serve, fill serving glasses with ice. Divide tea between the glasses, making sure to leave some space for the milk. Pour in frothed milk as desired.
- Stir and enjoy!
Thai Tea Ice Cream
Here’s another great and refreshing recipe to make with that pack of Thai tea mix. I found it on the Bear Naked Food blog and it’s easier to make than you may expect. I remember thinking after my first taste of this Thai Tea Ice Cream how it’s rather divine for a no-churn ice cream. No-churn, meaning it’s a shortcut recipe where you don’t need an ice cream maker, but you will need some sort of whipping device or hand mixer. I like to use my stand mixer plus balloon whisk attachment for this because it’s the easiest way.
This ice cream is a good translation of the drink into a frozen delight. It has a great Thai Tea flavor with just the right amount of sweetness from the condensed milk.
To start, you want to heat up the cream and steep the tea for 5 minutes. You don’t want to steep it longer than that because the cream will thicken too much the longer it sits.
Adding in a touch of salt seems to intensify the flavors of the ice cream so do not forget to mix that in as you give your mixture a final stir after steeping.
Strain the tea leaves out and aim to get 1-1/4 cups of this Thai tea-infused cream. I like to squeeze out my tea leaves to make sure I get every drop of cream, but usually I end up short. In this case, add in more plain heavy whipping cream until you get the required 1-1/4 cups.
Finally it’s time to chill the cream until very cold, at least 4 hours. Personally I like to do it overnight. You must NOT skip this refrigeration process. Your cream needs to be really cold to whip up to its full volume. The last thing you want is to redo the recipe like I did. See I was too impatient with the chilling process, took out the Thai tea cream from the fridge too early, and could not get the cream to whip up properly in Manila heat. All I did was break down the cream and waste it.
Anyway, this is really one of two crucial parts in this recipe. The reason why we whip the cream is to aerate it and make the ice cream “fluffy” and creamy rather than flat and dense. You want to whip the very cold Thai tea cream to stiff peaks like so:
After that, you just fold this whipped cream into your condensed milk. First add in 1/3 of your whipped cream to the condensed milk, mixing it all together to loosen the condensed milk. Doing this will make it easier to fold in the rest of the whipped cream.
Now dump in all your remaining whipped cream and gently fold it into the condensed milk mixture. At this stage, you want to avoid deflating the mixture so don’t be too aggressive about the folding and mixing. Your goal is to incorporate the condensed milk while maintaining that fluffiness of your whipped cream. It shouldn’t be a problem if you achieved the stiff peaks we talked about earlier.
Finally, pour the fluffy ice cream base into a freezer-safe container. I like to use my loaf pan these days. I even out the ice cream with my spatula or tap the pan on the counter. Make sure to press a piece of clingwrap or parchment directly on the surface of the ice cream to keep ice crystals away.
After at least 6 hours of freezing, you’ll get a beautiful orange-hued ice cream. The color will intensify as it freezes.
Look at those gorgeous Thai tea Ice Cream scoops! I adore the colors and could stare at it all day, unfortunately all no-churn ice creams tend to melt quite quickly. Make sure to eat the ice cream as soon as you scoop it into your serving glass or bowl.
For your information, it is as delicious as it looks! It’s just the right amount of sweet, with the flavors of the tea mix shining through. It’s literally like the frozen version of Thai Iced Tea.
No-Churn Thai Tea Ice Cream
Makes about 1 Liter of ice cream
- 1½ cups 360 mL heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup 24 grams Thai tea leaves mix
- 1/3 cup 90 mL sweetened condensed milk
- Pinch of salt
- In a saucepan, heat the whipping cream until bubbles just start forming around the edges and it looks like it's starting to steam. Stir occasionally to prevent the bottom from burning.
- Remove from heat and add in Thai tea leaves mix. Stir the mixture a few times to start the infusion process and leave to steep for 5 minutes only so the cream doesn't thicken too much and become difficult to strain.
- Pour the Thai tea-infused cream through a fine mesh strainer and into a measuring cup. You should have about 1¼ cups of infused cream. If not, top up with more cream to achieve that amount, then mix together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. The cream needs to be really cold to whip up to its full volume.
- Once ready, use a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment to whip the cold cream until stiff peaks are achieved.
- In another bowl, add a pinch of salt to the condensed milk. Add in 1/3 of the whipped Thai tea cream to the condensed milk and fold using a spatula. This will help loosen up the condensed milk and make it easier to incorporate.
- Add in the rest of the whipped cream and fold until well combined. Make sure not to overmix the mixture and deflate it. We want it to be fluffy and airy.
- Pour the ice cream base into a loaf pan. Place a piece of clingfilm or parchment on top, pressing it directly against the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming as the ice cream freezes.
- Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. This ice cream should be eaten immediately after being scooped as it melts more easily than regular ice cream with stabilizing ingredients.
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