Friday, September 14, 2012
Street Snacks: Take-Away Iced/Hot Chai Tea
The first think you might want to know is that Thai "iced tea" isn't what you're used to back home... it's not merely brewed black tea over ice.
It's also not what those in some parts of the USA call Sweet Tea; normal iced tea with what seems to be a cup of sugar per glass, but unless you're looking to cultivate the adult onset of Type II diabetes that's probably a good thing. No offense to my Texas or other Southern readers intended.
There are many variations of the Thai drink, but the base ingredient is tea, and that often means black tea, but there are other spices in the mix - star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and/or others by locale - and milk; whole, coconut, evaporated or sweetened condensed.
The clip above, shot in Old Chantaburi Town is one of the simplest versions I've seen prepared, but the preparation is a show unto itself in some places, such as the Chatuchak/Jatujak/JJ weekend market in Bangkok, where they often whirl about as they pour it a distance to blend the concoction from one container to another, as in the clips below from a few years ago.
Here's another - shorter - clip from the same visit:
As mentioned before, local ice can sometimes harbor bacteria that the Thai have no problems digesting but Western systems can find a challenge, so be advised and take that into consideration before being charmed like a snake in a basket into imbibing the tasty beverage. There's more about protecting yourself from that chance here.
It's looking to be another fairly warm day where I am, though, and the thought of walking along sipping one seems worth the minor risk. After all, it's all part and parcel of the adventure!