Thai iced tea, which has become better known in the United States with the rise in popularity of Thai food, is made from a mixture of black tea, milk and sugar. Although there are some Thai tea benefits, there are also a few side effects as well.
Helping to induce mental alertness and serving as a source of both protein and calcium are just some of the many health benefits of Thai iced tea.
Thai Tea Benefits
Thai tea, made up of black tea, condensed milk, sugar and a various spices, depending on the recipe, has a few health benefits worth noting. Black tea, made from the Camellia sinensis plant helps to induce mental alertness, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The caffeine in black tea can help improve attention for long periods of time. There has also been some evidence that black tea can lower the risk of heart attack, increase bone strength and decrease the risk of ovarian cancer and Parkinson's disease according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Moreover, a June 2019 article in the International Journal of Health Sciences describes other benefits of black tea — that it contains polyphenols that can provide protection against certain chronic disorders.
The sweetened condensed milk in Thai iced tea also has its share of benefits. According to Nidirect Government Services (Nidirect) of the UK, it's both a source of calcium and protein. While calcium helps our bones grow strong, our bodies require protein to function properly.
Read more: Thai Iced Tea Nutritional Facts
Thai Tea Side Effects
Along with Thai tea benefits come Thai tea side effects. To begin with, Thai iced tea is high in sugar content. The Better Health Channel of the Victoria State Government, Australia, explains that sugar should be consumed in moderation. Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain. Sugar is also closely linked to tooth decay. Sugars produce acid, which penetrate enamel and eventually result in breaking down of the tooth.
While condensed milk is beneficial for most, it can be highly aggravating for those with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. Those individuals may experience symptoms, such as diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, stomach cramps and rashes. In some cases, says Nidirect, milk allergy cases can be severe and require immediate attention. If you're lactose intolerant, you can substitute coconut milk for condensed milk.
The side effects of black tea are mainly due to its caffeine content. Too much caffeine can cause nervousness, headache, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle tremors and more. Moreover those who regularly drink black tea can ultimately develop a caffeine dependence, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Read more: The Effect of Black Tea on Weight Loss
Thai Iced Tea Ingredients
Thai iced tea is often made with a combination of Assamese tea and condensed milk. Star anise, a spice with a taste that resembles licorice, is generally added to give the tea a sweet, spicy flavor.
Other ingredients that can be added to flavor the tea are cinnamon, blossom water, tamarind and vanilla. In some cases, you can add boba or cubes of jelly to your tea. Thai iced tea with boba, small chewy balls made from tapioca, sweet potato, cassava starch and brown sugar, is also called bubble tea.
Because Thai iced tea is highly caloric, you may want to try a recipe that has only 40 calories per 8-ounce serving, as opposed to about 150 calories for 8 ounces of regular Thai tea. The recipe calls for evaporated milk instead of sweetened condensed milk and monk fruit instead of sugar. Star anise and cinnamon sticks are added for flavor. Or as a refreshing, minty alternative, try our recipe for Pomegranate Iced Tea.
Read more: Can Iced Tea Replace Water for the Body?
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Black Tea"
- Nidirect Government Services: "Milk and Dairy Products"
- International Journal of Health Sciences: "Molecular Evidences of Health Benefits of Drinking Black Tea"
- Better Health Channel: "Sugar"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Thai Tea"
- Calorie Control Council: "Thai Iced Tea"