A sweet local drink poured over ice is the perfect complement to a classically spicy Thai meal, as well as being a thirst-quenching delight when served on a hot afternoon by the pool of your luxury villa.
Even long days doing nothing on holiday in Thailand can take their toll on your body, particularly when the sun is blazing down on you from dawn until dusk. Consuming plenty of fluid is therefore essential for anyone that wants to avoid feeling drained by dehydration. Luckily, Thailand is home to a range of delectable home made cold drinks, many of which are designed to taste even better when they accompany a fiery Thai curry. Many of Thailand’s traditional sweet and soft drinks are simple to make, and can be prepared easily within the kitchen of a private holiday villa, or even back home.
Here are a few of Thailand’s tastiest liquid treats.
This luminous orange beverage could not be more different from the traditional “cuppa” most westerners are accustomed to drinking back home. Known as “Cha Yen” to locals, Thai iced tea or Thai milk tea is made from a mouth-watering blend of Thai tea, sugar, condensed and regular milk. Some Thai people even choose to season their drink with tamarind, cinnamon or star anise. Although it can be served hot, this drink is most refreshing when splashed over a glass of ice. For travellers with a sweet tooth, there is no going back after a rich helping of this creamy tea.
Coffee junkies are in for a unique treat when they indulge in a glass of traditional sweet Thai coffee. Mixed with sweetened condensed milk and cream, this is a local beverage that packs a punch full of flavour and the after effects are akin to a hit of rocket fuel. Like Thai tea, the pre-prepared blend is best served over ice. Some locals also choose to season their intense brew with cardamom or coriander.
Sweets for my sweet
This colourful culinary creation, known in Thailand as “gafa yen lua mit”, is always a favourite with youngsters and commonly served on the street. Like Taiwanese Bubble Tea, this milky iced coffee is mixed with vividly coloured glutinous rice balls. It’s best to drink this tasty beverage through a large straw, sucking the rice through with the icy drink rather consuming it separately with a fork or spoon. This tasty delight is both refreshing and fun for little ones to gulp down.
Refresh and reboot
In Thailand, coconuts are a common ingredient in curries, desserts and beverages. The revitalising water contained within a young coconut is not only wonderfully thirst-quenching, but also one of the best cures for dehydration. Like a sports drink, young coconut water tops up the electrolytes lost through sweat and the nutritional value of young coconut juice is fast making it one of the most popular health beverages in the world. Young coconut is much more popular than old coconut in Thailand. Once the juice is consumed, the flesh can be eaten or used in a whole host of tasty recipes.
Another Thai street favourite is sugar cane sap, which is particularly common during January and February after the sugar cane crop has been harvested in Thailand’s central provinces. To prepare the drink, street vendors squeeze the juice straight from the canes right on their cart, then pour it over ice and serve fresh. Unfortunately, it is difficult to make the drink at home as this preparation requires a sugar cane press, so it is best to keep your eyes peeled for the sweet, cloudy coloured drink on your travels around the country.
by Wayne Hue