Thai tea is also known as Thai Iced Tea, which originated in Thailand. Thai tea (Cha yen, in Thai) is a popular drink most commonly found in Thai restaurants in the United States and Southeast Asia. It can be served either hot or cold. Most people go for the traditional Thai iced tea especially after having spicy food on a hot day. Thai tea is so refreshing to drink, but how much caffeine is in Thai tea, and is it healthy?
There are also Thai traditional herbal teas made with Thai traditional medicine that can be referred to as Thai teas. It is also known as Thai tea when Oolong tea is brewed with ginger, lemongrass, and celery. If brewed with herbal teas, your Thai tea will not contain caffeine. If it’s brewed with Oolong, green or black tea, there will be caffeine in your Thai tea.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_tea#Variations_of_Thai_tea
Normally, the common Thai tea made of strong black tea has a lot of caffeine, but how much is “a lot?”. This guide will compare the amount of caffeine in a cup of Thai milk tea vs. the most common teas, coffee, energy drinks, and soft drinks.
What Is Thai Tea Made Of
Thai tea is most commonly made up of a combination of Ceylon tea or a classic base of strongly-brewed black tea like Assam tea. After brewing the tea, sweetened condensed milk is added together with sugar. Then it’s topped off with evaporated milk. Spices like star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, tamarind, and vanilla are added to give it a more fragrant flavor.
Thai Tea Ingredients
Thai Iced tea has a unique color from other teas. The white-colored milk blends in well to brighten up the original tea color. Some people say it has the same orange color as mac and cheese. That unique color of Thai iced tea comes from turmeric if you brew your Thai tea homemade from scratch. As for the Thai iced tea you order from restaurants, most of them are using pre-made Thai tea mixes and food coloring or dye to give the bright orange color.
You can also brew Thai tea with green tea which makes it green in color. Depending on how you brew the tea, using green tea may bring about less caffeine than making Thai tea with black tea. The combination of sugar and condensed milk makes Thai tea contain high sugar levels.
Effects Of Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that one can take as little as 40 milligrams to feel alert for many hours. It’s found in coffee beans and leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, which is also used to make black, green, and white teas.
Many people like to have a cup of tea as a pick-me-up or coffee to stay awake and be more attentive. It also boosts energy, increases stamina, and endurance, and improves mental and physical performance. Consuming caffeine in doses of 3-6 mg/kg body mass is popular among athletes to enhance their sport-specific actions.
However, with the beneficial effects come with negative effects with long-term consumption of drinks with caffeine. Overdose of caffeine leads to addiction, and withdrawal worsens anxiety and insomnia, increases blood pressure and heart rate, and may lead to glaucoma. https://selfhacked.com/blog/caffeine-benefits/
What Affects the Caffeine Content in Thai Tea
Although the caffeine comes from the tea leaves, the exact amount of caffeine in Thai tea depends on a variety of factors:
- How long have you been steeping the tea leaves? A longer steeping time causes the caffeine to infuse from the tea leaves into the water.
- The temperature of hot water used to steep the tea. The hotter the water, the more caffeine is infused from the leaves into the tea. This increases the caffeine content in the tea.
- The ratio of milk and water to tea. Whole milk, evaporated milk, canned condensed, or sweetened milk do not contain caffeine.https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171275/nutrients The more milk, water, and ice you add to your tea, the more diluted the tea becomes and the less caffeine it will have.
- The type of tea it’s brewed with. Brewing Thai tea with black tea gives you higher caffeine content than brewing with green tea and Oolong tea.
- Is your brewed tea made from tea bags or loose tea leaves? You can adjust how much concentration of tea you want to brew if you use loose tea leaves. The more you add in a fixed cup of hot water, the more caffeine will be present in your Thai tea.
You may notice that the menu in Thai restaurants offers Thai iced tea made from either red or green tea. The red tea could be referred to as rooibos tea in English or the “red tea” on the menu may be referred to as black tea. I’m wondering if the “red tea” is directly translated from various Asian languages known as 紅茶, and does not mean it’s rooibos tea.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_tea If this is the case, your Thai tea will not be brewed from rooibos tea but from black tea like Assam tea blends.
I’m still finding out if red tea refers to rooibos or is translated from Chinese, or possibly from the red color of the tea.
Either way, if you prefer to have Thai tea without caffeine or caffeine-free, you can use rooibos tea in place of green tea or black tea.
How Much Caffeine is in Thai Tea?
Compare Caffeine Levels in Thai Tea and a Cup of Coffee
Tea, Thai tea, and coffee are delicious drinks most of us crave every day. All of them contain caffeine but you don’t get the same amount all the time. Also, knowing the amount of caffeine content in each of them does not make sense unless you compare their caffeine levels with one another.
Let’s look at how much caffeine a glass of Thai iced tea (made from both green and black tea) contains as compared to an average cup of coffee.
Thai Iced Green Tea
If your Thai tea is brewed with green tea leaves, your 6 oz cup of Thai tea will have about 41 mg of caffeine.
Thai Iced Black Tea
If your Thai tea is made with black tea, you’d expect a 6 oz cup of Thai tea to contain about 47mg of caffeine.
A cup of black coffee contains at least 80 milligrams of caffeine per 6 oz cup.
Health Benefits of Thai Tea
The health benefits of Thai tea are attributed to the components of the type of tea that’s been brewed. The type of spices and the amount added will also determine how healthy they can be.
Both black tea and green tea have polyphenols that are natural antioxidants. These can ward off free radicals and help prevent heart disease and cancers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748760/Polyphenols can also help to reduce blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and oxidative stress.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6160559/
The tamarind seed helps to increase antioxidant activity in the body which wards off diseases and cancers.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4930494/ It also contains prebiotic functions that help with obesity, and inflammation and maintains intestine barrier health. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32414435/ Since intestinal barrier defects can lead to inflammatory bowel diseases, celiac disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the tamarind seed is a vital ingredient against them.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104804/
How to Make Thai Iced Tea: Easy Homemade Recipe
Here’s how you can make yourself a refreshing cup of Thai Iced Tea:
Equipment you need: tea bag, tea filter, or tea strainer
- Add 1/2 cup pre-made Thai tea mix to 2 cups of hot water at 212 Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. The Thai tea mix I use is “Cha Tra Mue” (these are Thai words that translate directly to “Tea Hand Brand”). It’s known as Hand Brand Tea by people, but the brand in English is called “Number One Brand”.
- Boil Thai tea mix with 1/4 cup sugar for another 3 minutes
- Let it cool and steep for 20 minutes
- Add ice to 3/4 cup full of tea mix
- Add 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
- Add orange food coloring, FD&C Yellow 6, or a touch of turmeric or tamarind for the bright orange color
Is Thai Tea a Healthy Drink?
Thai tea can be a powerful drink with all that spices to help fight diseases and promote gut health. However, traditional Thai tea has too much added sugar and the caffeine content can lead to side effects. In this case, drinking Thai tea in moderation with reduced sugar content can help to maintain one’s health and still enjoy the great taste of this exotic beverage.