Thai Tea — Any Way You Like It
Who doesn’t enjoy sipping up a creamy, fragrant Thai iced tea with spicy Southeast Asian food?
Now, you can make your own in a jiffy — and customize it however you like.
Just combine equal parts Thaiwala concentrate with whole milk, half and half, condensed milk, almond milk or any other dairy alternative in a tall glass with ice. You can even go fancy and add your own tapioca pearls to make bubble tea.
The concentrate is vegan and gluten-free, and can be enjoyed either cold or hot.
I had a chance to try samples of both varieties: Original (sweetened) and Unsweetened.
The Portland, OR company partnered with a woman-owned, organic tea farmer in Northern Thailand, who grows the black tea for Thaiwala. The brewed black tea gets blended with organic pandan leaf, organic caramel, organic cane sugar, organic vanilla, and a touch of cocoa. To amplify Thai tea’s familiar orange-inflected hue, beta-carotene from carrots is added.
The Original over ice with milk tastes very much like what you’re used to at a restaurant — sweet, luscious, and bordering on a dessert drink. Initially, the Unsweetened may not pop as much on your taste buds, but once you get used to its less sugary profile, you’ll really notice more the smoky, spicy and earthy notes of the actual tea.
When I cut the concentrate with a little water rather than milk, then heated it up, the taste reminded me of chai with notes of warm baking spices and vanilla really coming to the forefront.
In fact, while the directions say to add equal parts concentrate and milk or milk alternative, I like to add slightly more of the concentrate to really bring out the flavor of the tea.
The Original has 60 calories per 1/2 cup serving while the Unsweetened has 5 calories. The Original has 15 grams of total carbohydrates per serving; the Unsweetened has 1 gram. Both concentrates contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium. Of course, those figures will change once you add your favorite dairy or non-dairy milk.
The concentrates sell for about $6 for a 1-quart container, enough for 8 servings. Look for them at Whole Foods, Lucky Supermarket, Nob Hill Foods, Lunardi’s, Mollie Stone’s, Raley’s, New Leaf Community Markets, Rainbow Grocery, Berkeley Bowl, and 99 Ranch.