Origins of tea
Tea likely originated in Yunnan province in south west China around 5000 years ago. The Thai people also originate from Yunnan province before migrating south. So drinking tea is naturally an essential part of their culture. Despite coffee becoming quite popular in the recent years, tea will always be the number one drink in Asia. The Thai people enjoy different types of tea, although I'll just tell you about the traditional ones here.
"Drinking tea is naturally an essential part of their culture"
Originally tea was used as a medicine in ancient China. Besides being a stimulant due to caffeine, recent studies have found that drinking tea habitually decreases blood pressure and danger of heart disease. Tea can help with your teeth as well by adjusting the ph in your mouth. For more info
Different types teas can increase your health in various ways. I recommend exploring the benefits of drinking a daily cup or two a day and find out which tea can sort out your particular ailment.
"Thai" tea is normally black tea powder flavored with vanilla in a tea sock with boiling hot water poured through it into a rather small glass containing a spoonful of condensed milk and sugar with a dash of milk on top. After the strong black tea is mixed together with other ingredients with joyful spoon-on-glass clicking noises, customers sip on the hot tea over conversations. Normally, Thais drink their hot tea (Cha Hron in Thai) in the local tea shop or in the morning markets. Typically, this is mostly the older crowd that enjoy the more traditional lifestyle.
"The older crowd enjoy the more traditional lifestyle"
Cold "Thai" tea (Chai yen) is pre-made normally and served over ice in plastic cups at tea stalls for takeaway. The younger generation prefer this style as they try to cool down from the heat and aren't interested sitting in open air markets and tea shops. They're in a hurry to go places and sit around. Recently however, the fashion has turned to be a bit eco and many people are using the large metal reusable glasses with metal straws. Its certainly a step in reducing plastic use. Small individual steps can produce large results for society.
Lemon tea (Cha manao) is also quite popular in Thailand. Normally served cold its quite refreshing on a hot day. The lemon mixed with black "Thai" tea with sugar added can really revive your senses after a scorching hot walk around town. I also enjoy drinking lemon tea hot. As with cold "Thai" tea, the cold lemon tea is pre-made and usually too sweet for my taste.
"Lemon tea can revive your senses after a scorching hot walk"
Traditionally in Thailand, when you order a tea in a tea shop another drink comes with it. Weak hot tea (Nam cha) which is normally very weak black tea flavored with jasmine.
The importance of tea shops
Traditional tea shops still exist here in Phuket despite the multitude of air-conditioned cafes the abound here in town. These old style tea shops are essential in society because they are mini town halls were people from the local community gather daily for conversation. What I found quite surprising is that the older people from all social classes enjoy such shops together. The youth, of course, prefer A/C and malls. As much as I enjoy being a part of traditional style as those people are quite welcoming if you want to sit down for a tea, normally the tea is too sweet for me so I prefer to make mine at home.
"Tea shops are essential in society"
At home my preference is ginger tea with soy milk. I make my own ginger powder, buying a kilo of ginger in the market, washing, peeling, chopping, drying in the sun, and then grinding in my blender to a fine powder. I add soy milk powder with ginger powder then pour hot water thru the metal tea strainer containing black tea. I also make lemon tea at home. Both are quite simple and meet my demanding tastes perfectly.
My favorite place to drink tea is also a second hand Japanese shop. They import shipping containers from Japan full of used items including furniture, bicycles and almost every type of products you could imagine. Obviously, lots of cute little gadgets and of course Disneyland memorabilia. Inside their shop they also have a small cafe with tea, coffee, and lots of other drinks. This place is so interesting it deserves its own post which will be in the near future so stay tuned for that.
Thai tea love
Thais love "Thai" tea for sure but there are lots of other teas they love too. Cold green tea with milk is extremely popular and I've seen a few "bubble tea" stalls around but as I have no idea about these I'll leave it to you to investigate or feel free to educate me on them. I've barely touched the tip of the tea iceburg here. How about you? Do you enjoy a nice cup of tea and if so what are your preferences? Thai tea is quite famous outside of Thailand and I hope you get the chance to try one over here in the homeland. Thanks for reading my post and hope you enjoyed it.