Cha Nom Yen
(Thai Iced Tea)
Thai tea, also known as ‘cha nom yen’, is a must-try if you are visiting Thailand. This is most likely one of the most popular drinks among tourists and foreigners in Thailand. You can’t miss its bright orange color, and its sweet taste will leave you craving for more. Cha nom yen is brewed with Ceylon tea leaves, and then condensed milk and sugar are added to give it its sweet and creamy consistency. It is usually poured over ice (in a cup or a plastic bag) and then evaporated milk is added.
Although the ‘yen’ in ‘cha nom yen’ means ‘cold’, this treat is also delightful as a hot drink. The traditional way to serve this tea is in a glass with condensed milk sitting at the bottom. How much you stir should depend on how much of a sweet tooth you have. If you want to enjoy it in its original, unsweetened form, let the condensed milk sit at the bottom of your glass.
Tip for ordering: Say ‘cha nom’ if you want hot Thai tea and ‘cha nom yen’ if you want cold Thai tea. Sometimes, different variations of these phrases will get you some other kind of tea that is not orange in color. Just remember, it’s all part of the language learning process and living abroad experience!
What treats should you eat with this traditional drink?
Roti – plain with condensed milk, egg, with banana
Toast – with ‘sankaya’, butter and sugar, etc.
Patongo (Recommendation: dip this fried doughy delight in your cha nom yen!)
It can be difficult to come across a truly authentic Thai tea — meaning the Thai tea that is thick in consistency, rich in flavor, and just the right amount of sweet.
So where can you find the real deal in Bangkok?
MONT (NOM SOT) is a famous milk shop that serves Thai tea and different colored milk that you can drink along with plush white bread dipped in sankaya (Pandan custard) or other sweet toppings.
On Lok Yun is a favorite place to enjoy a true Thai breakfast: fluffy fried Thai omelets, eggs, bacon, sausage, ‘khai luak’, or soft boiled egg with Thai pepper powder and Maggi seasoning sauce, cold or hot Thai tea, and ‘patongo’, or Chinese fried dough.
Ahmad Rosdee serves great authentic Thai tea — thick, rich and not too sweet, but rich in flavor.
You can enjoy it with some authentic halal food, like khao mok gai (Thai chicken biryani).
Café de Norasingha is known for its old-style, or Thai ‘bolan’ dishes.
The Thai tea is a popular order at this beautifully decorated historical café.