Tuesday, November 15

Thai Iced Tea - Cha Yen

I really miss Mother Teresa.  That's my code name for one of my best friends.  We used to do everything together, every single day.  She's not only the god mother of The Young Tongue, she was and still is my confidante.  We've laughed and cried together, bought pets, started a business, traveled places, and she is my "go-to-Mom" whenever I have those "you-don't-want-to-ask-your-pedia-because-you'll-sound-stupid-and-you-should-know-this-by-now" kind of questions.  And in so many levels, our background and outlook in life are similar.  I don't even have to explain anything, she just gets me.  How often can you find that?!

One of her favorite drinks is Cha-Yen, or simply put, Thai Iced Tea.  When I lived in Manila, we would trek Dusit Hotel to get this as authentic as possible.  The quality after all, was trustworthy.  Over sips of this drink and several dishes, we would sit there in Dusit Thani, sharing our life stories.  We would also exchange parenting tips.  I really admire her for her devotion to her growing family.  She is a super mom! 

So here's how to prepare her favorite drink:
You'll have to start with a Thai Tea Mix.  They widely use the NUMBER ONE BRAND here.  It comes in this packaging, with a "thumbs up" sign.  I searched high and low for this in Bangkok and just when I was about to give up, I befriended a Thai Iced Tea hawker guy in front of our office, and asked if I could just buy a few packs from his inventory.  And he so kindly obliged.  He also told me that this brand is readily available in local stores.  Apparently, I was looking at the wrong places.  I guess when he said "local," he meant as local as you can get - not the big names like Tesco's or Big C (previously Carrefour) and definitely not Villa Supermarket.

Steep 2-3 teaspoons of this tea mix per cup of boiling water for a few minutes.  Here you can see me use my ever-dependable, Bodum tea infuser (how I got this in Sweden is another story all together which I'll probably share someday when I cook something Scandinavian).  Right, back to the tea...  Strain and combine with 3 teaspoons (or more if you want it sweeter) of condensed milk.  Pour into a glass with lots of ice.  And for that indulgent (or shall I say naughty) flavor, drizzle with evaporated milk.  Most people question the addition of this last ingredient since they feel the condensed milk gives it the right sweetness already.  In my opinion, the evaporated milk gives a more creamy flavor and well-balanced note, so this last step is ever-so important.  Do not compromise and don't just settle without.
Refreshing and uniquely Thai! Do you know that saying "once on the lips, forever on the hips?"  Drink in moderation I guess.  But quite frankly, I drink a tall glass every lunch time.  And that's because it's "aroi maak maak!"

So cheers to you Mother Teresa!  I miss you heaps.  And I can't wait to see you here in the City of Angels.