First, a quick aside: I use Endoca CBD oil in this recipe purely for flavour alone. There simply isn't enough quality research to unequivocally state any of the medical claims about CBD oil are true. It is, however, a product garnering more attention, and so the research pool will hopefully grow in coming years to an extent that we will be able to make reasonable claims one way or another. Of course this research sadly, like any other research behind a product with a lucrative market, runs the risk of being obscured and biased. Just a friendly reminder to read between the lines and with a critical eye.
In Thailand cha yen always refers to sweet, milky Thai iced tea and is probably one of the country's top drinkable exports (Singha and Chang beers aside). This drink is easily found on Thai menus around the globe, and Thai tea powder is equally not difficult to find outside of the kingdom. My recipe for vegan Thai iced tea is based on the style we know and love, but with a slight twist: the optional addition of CBD oil (credit where credit is due: this idea hails from my friend Emi of Emi's Good Eating).
The flavour profile of black tea has a tendency toward astringency, but this is tempered by sugar and fat. Hence many people have a preference for consuming black tea with milk and sugar. Thai tea is no different, except the levels of sweetness and richness are heightened by the use of condensed milk and cream (in the non-vegan versions evaporated milk is used to top the drink).
Depending on how the tea is processed (all tea comes from the same plant), black teas can taste floral, spiced, and/or fruity, among other characteristics. Thai tea mix is made from a full bodied malty Assam tea with some additional flavourings like vanilla and a nutritious (...) food dye that gives the drink its signature orange colour.
The flavour of Thai black tea is hence robust and can stand up to an ingredient packing as big a taste wallop as CBD oil. The slightly bitter oil is unsurprisingly herbal, but beyond that is as if beetroot got wrapped in a mint bush to be heavily smoked with pine, and the result was concentrated into a small vial. CBD on its own isn't everyone's, um, cup of tea (pun intended), but this combination might just convince you there are tasteful applications.
A note for vegan visitors to Thailand: Dairy is not very common, but most Thai tea and iced coffee (kafae yen) does contain cow's milk. The exception is during the annual teetsagan gin jay festival, when you will see soy based cha yen offered more frequently both on the street and as a special at cafes. 7-11 and Family Mart both sell Vitamilk brand vegan Thai tea in a glass bottle, available from the refrigerated section next to cold foods (not typically in the big fridges with doors). This brand is also readily available in supermarkets.
Thai Iced Tea with Optional CBD Oil
Cha Yen (ชาเย็น)
Vegan Thai iced tea is easily made by swapping out animal ingredients for dairy-free alternatives. I use Number One brand Thai tea powder, but any Thai brand will work. If you're using CBD oil, be sure to add it to the hot tea so the oil has a chance to dissipate; if you add it at the end it will form in larger globules on top of the tea or around the glass (it's very viscous). Use a paper or fabric strainer for the tea, which is very fine and will slip through metal strainers.
- 2 tablespoons Thai tea powder
- 250 millilitres (1 cup) boiling water
- 3-5 drops CBD oil (optional)
- 2 tablespoons vegan condensed milk
- 2-3 teaspoons sugar (or more, to taste)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons soy cream or rich non-dairy milk (e.g. Oatly barista, Bonsoy, or homemade almond milk)
- Add the tea powder to a heat proof container and pour the boiling water over. Leave for about 5 minutes.
- Strain through a paper or fabric filter. Add the CBD oil, if using, to the hot tea. For layered tea, as in my photos, follow the step below. Otherwise combine the vegan condensed milk, sugar, and salt with the hot tea and mix or shake to combine thoroughly. Pour over a glass full to the brim with ice and top with soy cream or rich non-dairy milk.
- To make a layered tea (as in my pictures) for the drinker to mix themselves: pour the condensed milk into the bottom of a glass. Add the sugar and salt. Fill the glass with ice to the brim. Pour the hot tea over the ice. Top the glass with the soy cream or non-dairy milk.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Serves: 1-2
- Cuisine: Thai