That Spicy Chick

Thai Iced Milk Tea with Grass Jelly

This Thai Iced Milk Tea is a cooling, refreshing, and tasty sweet drink with chewy grass jelly cubes! It’s easy to make, creamy, and a delightful treat on hot summer days!

Top view of two mason mugs with Thai milk tea, grass jelly cubes, and ice with boba straws and tall spoons.

Hi friends!

We’re at 32°C (90°F) already here in Hong Kong already and it’s JUST the beginning of summer. While I do adore summer and am not a big fan of winter because bundling up in layers = me tripping and stumbling constantly due to the extra weight, I’m sweating buckets daily and I am definitely not a fan of that! To combat the heat, I’ve been enjoying cooling, icy, and refreshing summer drinks!

One of my favorite drinks during the hot weather months is this Thai Iced Milk Tea (Cha Yen) with Grass Jelly. It’s delightfully creamy and milky, sweet, and incredibly energizing thanks to the caffeine in the tea. It’s also super delicious, and guaranteed to cool you down since it’s served over plenty of ice! 🙌

Close up top view of a mason mug with Thai milk tea, grass jelly cubes, ice, boba straw, and a tall spoon.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Thai tea is incredibly flavorful and mildly spiced. It’s tasty with a hint of vanilla flavor, and the caffeine in it energizes you.
  • Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk make this drink deliciously creamy and sweet.
  • Grass jelly has cooling properties. It has the texture of regular jello, and provides a nice contrast to the cooling and creamy sweet drink.
  • It’s simple and easy to make, and the tea can be made ahead.

Who’s ready to take a break and cool down with this refreshing, sweet, and milky tea drink with me?

Labeled photo with ingredients for Thai Iced Milk Tea with Grass Jelly.

Ingredients

  • Thai Tea Mix can be found online, at Asian grocery stores, and even Walmart too (on the day of writing this post). It’s available in powder (tea leaves) form or tea bags (sachets). Either will work for this recipe. But I used tea bags here as they offer convenience and are easier to clean up than the loose tea leaves. I used Number One Brand (ChaTraMue) Thai red tea mix. It’s one of the best ones out there, and I highly recommend it! Several people also use Pantai brand Thai tea mix. It’s an option for you to consider, but you may need to adjust the tea powder and sugar measurements. I have not tried this brand so can’t speak much about it.
  • Evaporated milk gives the tea a creamier texture. Use more or less depending on how creamy you like your tea.
  • Sweetened condensed milk makes the tea sweet and creamy. Use more or less depending on how sweet you like your tea.
  • Crushed ice is traditionally used in Thailand, but cubes or any shape you have on hand will work fine. They also fill up the entire glass with ice. But you can use as much or as little ice you like.
  • Grass jelly can be purchased fresh (depending on where you live) or in cans at Asian groceries store. The cans will be located in the same section as where they keep the boba (tapioca pearls). Grass jelly is made from the Mesona palustris plant, and it is pretty much flavorless in taste. If you prefer to sweeten it, you can soak cubed grass jelly overnight in simple syrup in the refrigerator. Or you can add more sugar to the tea itself. I find that the sweetness in the tea is sufficient enough and do not sweeten the grass jelly.
Front view of two mason mugs with Thai milk tea, grass jelly cubes, and ice with boba straws and tall spoons.

How To Make Thai Iced Milk Tea with Grass Jelly

1. Prepare the tea: Bring the water to a boil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and Thai tea mix tea bags (or Thai tea mix powder if using). Stir with a spoon to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1 minute. Gently press the tea bags to extract as much flavor as possible. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the tea to steep for 20-30 minutes.

A pot with red tea and two tea bags.

2. Prepare the grass jelly: While the tea is steeping, prepare the grass jelly. Open the can and use a sharp thin bladed knife to loosen the grass jelly from the edges. Tip out the grass jelly onto a cutting board, then slice into cubes. Fill a measuring cup with ¾ cup of grass jelly cubes and refrigerate until ready to use. (Note: Place the remainder grass jelly in a non-metallic airtight sealed container and refrigerate for up to one week.)

Cubed grass jelly on a cutting boad.

3. Strain and chill: Discard the tea bags and pour the tea into a pitcher with a cover. (If using Thai tea mix powder, use a fine mesh strainer to strain the tea into a pitcher and separate it from the solids. Discard the tea powder.) Refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes to quicken the cooling process.

Close-up view of a tall glass pitcher with red tea on a counter.

4. Assemble and enjoy!: Once the tea is nice and cold, fill two glasses with the grass jelly and ice. Pour the tea in the glass, leaving enough room for the milks. Top each glass with evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk (use more or less for both as per your preference). Stir to combine. Then serve and enjoy!

Top view of two mason mugs with ice cubes and grass jelly. Tall spoons and boba straws on the side.
Top view of two diagonally placed mason mugs with milk tea, grass jelly cubes, ice, boba straws, and tall spoons.

Full ingredient amounts/instructions in the recipe card below.

Cook’s Tips

  • Allow the tea to steep for at least 20 minutes. This will ensure a better and stronger tea flavor.
  • If using Thai tea mix powder/tea leaves, you have the option of using a tea sock instead of adding the tea powder to the pot of water. Then when the tea is done steeping, you can easily remove the tea sock and discard the tea leaves. This will ensure no black grainy tea bits gets into your glass.
  • Use a good quality fine mesh strainer if using Thai tea mix powder. This will prevent the grainy tea bits from getting into your glass.
  • Chill the tea before pouring into glasses to serve. For best flavor, chill the tea for at least 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator. This will prevent the ice from immediately melting when you pour the tea over it and diluting the tea flavor.
  • Boba straws are wide enough to allow both the drink and grass jelly to be sucked up into your mouth so that you can enjoy both simultaneously. But if you don’t have boba straws on hand, you can serve with regular straws and long spoons.
Hand holding up a mason mug with Thai milk tea, cubed grass jelly, and ice with a straw and tall spoon.

FAQs and Variations

Why is the tea color so orange?

Food coloring is added to the tea mix and that’s what makes the tea a vibrant shade of reddish-orange.

Can I use regular milk instead of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk?

Yes. You can use whole milk or half and half if you prefer. You may need to increase the sugar amount depending on your sweetness preference.

Is Thai milk tea gluten-free?

Yes. All of the ingredients for this recipe are naturally gluten-free.

Can I make this dairy-free?

Yes. Simply use a dairy-free milk such as coconut milk, almond milk, or oat milk instead of the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.

Can I use boba instead of grass jelly?

Yes. I recommend using a fast-cooking boba which takes 10-15 minutes to make as opposed to the regular kind, which can take over an hour. Follow the package instructions on how to make them. Pro-tip: Make the boba just before you’re ready to serve to ensure that they are nice and chewy. They tend to become dry and stiff within 1-2 hours after cooking.

Can I use regular black tea bags?

Yes. But I recommend adding 2 star anise stars, 2 black cloves, 1/8 TSP ground cinnamon, and ½ TSP vanilla extract to the pot along with the tea bags (or tea mix powder) and sugar to achieve a similar taste profile to Thai tea.

Is grass jelly healthy?

Grass jelly has been linked to several health benefits. It lowers blood pressure, decreases inflammation, helps to control blood sugar levels, and improves digestion. These are just some of the known health benefits.

Is Thai iced milk tea healthy?

Yes and no. The tea itself is not bad for you, but the amount and type of sweetener and creamer you use may make this drink not so healthy. If you’d like to make this drink healthier, you can omit the sugar or use a natural sweetener like honey. Also, use half and half instead of the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Note that these adjustments will alter the taste and texture of the drink.

Is there a decaffeinated version of Thai tea mix powder?

Unfortunately, no. I haven’t come across a decaf version of Thai tea mix. If you prefer not to consume caffeine, I suggest using decaf black tea bags instead and adding 2 star anise stars, 2 black cloves, 1/8 TSP ground cinnamon, and ½ TSP vanilla extract to the pot of water to achieve a similar taste profile to Thai tea.

Can I make this ahead?

You can make the tea and store in a covered pitcher in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. However, assemble the tea with the ice, grass jelly, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk just before serving.

Can I serve the tea hot?

Yes. Thai hot tea makes for a delicious warming drink in the winter too! I recommend steeping the tea for 10-15 minutes only if serving hot so that it isn’t too strong. The ice in the cold version dilutes the strong tea flavor.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes. You can double or triple the recipe and enjoy the Thai iced milk tea over a few days. Store the tea in a covered pitcher in the refrigerator.

Top view of a mason mug with Thai milk tea, cubed grass jelly, and ice with a straw and tall spoon. Text overlay "Thai Iced Milk Tea with Grass Jelly".

MORE TASTY SUMMER DRINKS


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Top view of two mason mugs with Thai milk tea, grass jelly cubes, and ice with boba straws and tall spoons.

Thai Iced Milk Tea (with Grass Jelly!)

This Thai Iced Milk Tea is a cooling, refreshing, and tasty sweet drink with chewy grass jelly cubes! It’s easy to make, creamy, and a delightful treat on hot summer days!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 40
  • Cook Time: 3
  • Total Time: 43 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai
Scale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and 2 Thai tea mix tea bags (or 2 tablespoons Thai tea mix powder). Stir with a spoon to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1 minute. Gently press the tea bags to extract as much flavor as possible. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the tea to steep for 20-30 minutes.
  2. While the tea is steeping, prepare the grass jelly. Open the can and use a sharp thin bladed knife to loosen the grass jelly from the edges. Tip out the grass jelly onto a cutting board, then slice into cubes. Fill a measuring cup with ¾ cup of grass jelly cubes and refrigerate until ready to use. (Note: Place the remainder grass jelly in a non-metallic airtight sealed container and refrigerate for up to one week.)
  3. Discard the tea bags and pour the tea into a pitcher with a cover. (If using Thai tea mix powder, use a fine mesh strainer to strain the tea into a pitcher and separate it from the solids. Discard the tea powder.) Refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes to quicken the cooling process.
  4. Once the tea is nice and cold, fill two glasses with the grass jelly and ice. Pour the tea in the glass, leaving enough room for the milks. Top each glass with 2 tablespoons evaporated milk and 1 and ¾ tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (use more or less for both as per your preference). Stir to combine. Then serve and enjoy!

Notes

Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs

  1. Where to buy Thai tea mix: Thai Tea Mix can be found online, at Asian grocery stores, and even Walmart too (on the day of writing this post). It’s available in powder (tea leaves) form or tea bags. I used a Thai red tea mix from Number One Brand.
  2. Evaporated milk: Evaporated milk gives the tea a creamier texture. Use more or less depending on how creamy you like your tea.
  3. Sweetened condensed milk: Sweetened condensed milk makes the tea sweet and creamy. Use more or less depending on how sweet you like your tea.
  4. Grass jelly: Grass jelly can be purchased fresh (depending on where you live) or in cans at Asian groceries store. The cans will be located in the same section as where they keep the boba (tapioca pearls). Grass jelly is made from the Mesona palustris plant, and it is pretty much flavorless in taste. If you prefer to sweeten it, you can soak cubed grass jelly overnight in simple syrup in the refrigerator. Or you can add more sugar to the tea itself.
  5. Allow the tea to steep for at least 20 minutes. This will ensure a better and stronger tea flavor.
  6. Tea sock: If using Thai tea mix powder, you have the option of using a tea sock instead of adding the tea powder to the pot of water. Then when the tea is done steeping, you can easily remove the tea sock and discard the tea leaves. This will ensure no black grainy tea bits gets into your glass of tea.
  7. Fine mesh strainer: Use a good quality fine mesh strainer if using Thai tea mix powder. This will prevent the grainy tea bits from getting into your glass of tea.
  8. Chill the tea: For best flavor, chill the tea for at least 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator before pouring into glasses to serve. This will prevent the ice from immediately melting when you pour the tea over it and diluting the tea flavor.
  9. Boba straws: Boba straws are wide enough to allow both the drink and grass jelly to be sucked up into your mouth so that you can enjoy both simultaneously. But if you don’t have boba straws on hand, you can serve with regular straws and long spoons.
  10. Thai tea color: Food coloring is added to the tea mix and that’s what makes the tea a vibrant shade of reddish-orange.
  11. Can I use regular milk instead of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk? Yes. You can use whole milk or half and half if you prefer. You may need to increase the sugar amount depending on your sweetness preference.
  12. Is Thai milk tea gluten-free? Yes. All of the ingredients for this recipe are naturally gluten-free.
  13. Can I make this dairy-free? Yes. Simply use a dairy-free milk such as coconut milk, almond milk, or oat milk instead of the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.
  14. Can I use boba instead of grass jelly? Yes. I recommend using a fast-cooking boba which takes 10-15 minutes to make as opposed to the regular kind, which can take over an hour. Follow the package instructions on how to make them. Pro-tip: Make the boba just before you’re ready to serve to ensure that they are nice and chewy. They tend to become dry and stiff within 1-2 hours after cooking.
  15. Can I use regular black tea bags? Yes. But I recommend adding 2 star anise stars, 2 black cloves, 1/8 TSP ground cinnamon, and ½ TSP vanilla extract to the pot along with the tea bags (or tea mix powder) and sugar to achieve a similar taste profile to Thai tea. 
  16. Is grass jelly healthy? Grass jelly has been linked to several health benefits. It lowers blood pressure, decreases inflammation, helps to control blood sugar levels, and improves digestion. These are just some of the known health benefits.
  17. Is Thai iced milk tea healthy? Yes and no. The tea itself is not bad for you, but the amount and type of sweetener and creamer you use may make this drink not so healthy. If you’d like to make this drink healthier, you can omit the sugar or use a natural sweetener like honey.  Also, use half and half instead of the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Note that these adjustments will alter the taste and texture of the drink.
  18. Is there a decaffeinated version of Thai tea mix powder? Unfortunately, no. I haven’t come across a decaf version of Thai tea mix. If you prefer not to consume caffeine, I suggest using decaf black tea bags instead and adding 2 star anise stars, 2 black cloves, 1/8 TSP ground cinnamon, and ½ TSP vanilla extract to the pot of water to achieve a similar taste profile to Thai tea.
  19. Can I make this ahead? You can make the tea and store in a covered pitcher in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. However, assemble the tea with the ice, grass jelly, evaporated and sweetened condensed milks just before serving.
  20. Can I serve the tea hot? Yes. Thai hot tea makes for a delicious warming drink in the winter too! I recommend steeping the tea for 10-15 minutes only if serving hot so that it isn’t too strong. The ice in the cold version dilutes the strong tea flavor.
  21. Can I double the recipe? Yes. You can double or triple the recipe and enjoy the Thai iced milk tea over a few days. Store the tea in a covered pitcher in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 glass
  • Calories: 148
  • Sugar: 20g
  • Sodium: 167.4mg
  • Fat: 4.1g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.7g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 3.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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