This deliciously refreshing drink is all the rage in Bangkok, evolving from a common companion to spicy Thai fare to a beverage so popular that specialized cafés are opening up nationwide. Made from strongly-brewed black tea, different variations pair add-ins like tamarind, star anise, cardamom, and other spices with the sweet condensed milk pour over the top. Check out these enticing cafés popular for their own version of the classic beverage.
This kiosk chain first began satiating Bangkok’s tea drinkers in 1945, swiftly gaining recognition under its named, translated as “Number One Brand.” The business first specialized its operation out of Chinatown focusing on imported teas like Oolong and Green, before switching its main offering in favor of the classic Thai staple. Today, there are 18 kiosks citywide, including several BTS stations and megamalls like Central World and Terminal 21 – the latter of which has exploded in popularity because of its Thai tea soft serve ice cream.
This darling café channels a true French Provencial spirit, draped in hanging flower arrangements and flooded with tons of natural light mimicking a garden-like setting, juxtaposed against views of the high-rise Bangkok skyline. The pastry-centric café is locally famous for its Thai Tea Crepe cake, a rich, decadent, and intensely flavorful dessert evoking the complex tastes of its namesake drink.
This isn’t Greyhound Café’s first rodeo. This café first opened its doors in 1980, and has been a great place to eat and drink ever since. The place became so popular, in fact, that it now has a total of 12 locations with several international cafés located in Hong Kong. Its menu has a wide array of both International and Thai cuisine, vegetarian options, and more. The serving sizes are large as well, ensuring all restaurant-goers leave with a full stomach.
Located in Chinatown, this restaurant does not have the most extensive of menus, the majority of items being those which complement one of its excellent cups of tea, including varieties from Sri Lanka, China, and even Taiwan. Or stick to their crowd-pleasing Thai tea and escape the chaos of Yarowat Road in its softly-lit, simple interior reminiscent of the days when the first tea traders themselves landed in Bangkok’s hyper-international Chinatown.
A restaurant launched from a family kitchen, Lukkaithong’s mother-son duo relies on secret familial recipes handed down over generations to deliver its quality fare and intensely flavored dishes. Award-winning and host to a number of celebrity clientelle, Lukkaithong treats all of its guests as if they were royalty, serving up cuisine suitable (and originally intended) for a king. Their signature Cha-lukKaiThong Milk Tea is served with a dose of bubble black tea, while they’ve also got a French “Roti” with Thai Ceylon Milk Tea dessert to tame your sweet tooth.
Though easy to miss among Thonglor’s culinary offerings, Supanniga Eating Room has been regularly landing spots on best restaurant lists in Bangkok for years. The relaxing home-like restaurant houses a creative cooking team which brings out summer specials to pair with its decadent Thai iced tea, or turn it up a notch getting your fix with their Thai tea panna cotta.
The steadfast devotee to Thai cuisine might shy away from any tea that deviates from the unique star anise and cardamon blend, but Everyday Karmakamet, a cosy café and lifestyle shop, breaks the mold by incorporating subtle yet rich flavors to its teas. Check out the ultra popular Rose or French Vanilla Thai Milk Tea options.
British tea drinkers rejoice – Earl Grey Thai Milk Tea is certainly a staple of After You Dessert Cafe’s menu, outdone only by its Thai Tea Kakigori. This popular Korean-inspired dessert, also called bingu, is a shaved ice dessert topped with any variety of toppings – in this case the flavored shaved ice sits atop grass jelly and fluffy diced toast, then drizzled with a signature sweet and savory condensed milk and topped with sliced almonds.
Often referred to as the most famous Thai dessert shop in Bangkok by its laureates, “Nomsod” translates to fresh milk, and it remains the store’s namesake offering. The milk is available in several levels of sweetness, in many flavors—including both tea and non-tea varieties—and available in-house served hot or iced, or in takeaway bottles for home. While there are several branches around the city including MBK Center, the original, 50-year-old shop is near Bangkok City Hall in Phranakorn, but the journey there is worth it to experience the authenticity and charm of this decades’ old dessert dynasty.
Combine your cup with another local mega-trend – boba. Osaka steams its tapioca balls or “milk pearls” for over four hours in premium syrup straight from from Okinawa, Japan, then added to tea drinks blended with 3.6 Hokkaido milk, boasted as creamier and richer than standard barista milk. Flavor options vary, and include of course, Thai Milk Tea.