Thai Tea vs Milk Tea: See What Makes Them Different

Thai tea is known for its distinctive bright orange color which sets it apart from the average milk tea. Milk tea, however, is known to offer a wide range of colors which can include pink like rose milk tea, purple, black, and white. 

Besides its distinct color, what other attributes make Thai tea different from the average milk tea?

This article explores the difference between Thai tea and milk tea, the ingredients used in making them, similarities, and known varieties.

What is Thai tea?

Commonly known as Thai iced tea or Thai drink, Thai tea is a popular Southeast Asian drink primarily made using milk, sugar, and Ceylon tea. Thai tea is mostly served in restaurants that sell Thai food and is preferably served cold, hence the name Thai iced tea.

that tea vs milk tea - cheffist

While Thai iced tea is the most popular form of Thai tea, there are many variations. For example, the Thai traditional herbal tea which originates from traditional Thai medicine is also known as Thai tea.

Thai tea is sweetened using condensed milk and sugar and mainly brewed using bai miang (a version of Assam) or Ceylon tea. The drink also commonly comes served in a tall glass cup or plastic cup and may include ice cubes or crushed ice.

What is milk tea?

Milk tea refers to the different variations of beverages that exist in many cultures and mainly comprises milk and tea. The milk tea variation differs based on the ingredients used, the addition of other ingredients, and their preparation method. 

that tea vs milk tea - cheffist

For example, some may include ingredients like spices (cinnamon, cardamom), sugar, honey, tapioca balls, or salt among many other ingredients. The type of tea may also differ like the use of oolong tea, green tea, black tea, herbal tea, yellow tea, etc.

Variations of the milk tea include:

  • Boba milk tea or bubble tea
  • Cambric tea
  • British tea
  • Burmese milk tea 
  • Hong Kong-style milk tea 
  • Panda milk tea 
  • Chai tea

SEE: Find Out What Makes The Panda Milk Tea So Unique

Is Thai tea the same as milk tea?

No, Thai tea is not the same thing as milk tea but merely a variation of milk tea. Thai iced tea exists as a form of milk tea prepared using enough coffee creamer, condensed milk, and Ceylon tea.

Milk tea, however, covers the vast majority of beverages that use tea and milk as their base ingredient.

SEE: Condensed Milk vs Sweetened Condensed Milk – Are They The Same?

What does Thai tea taste like?

Thai tea has a distinctively sweet, floral, spicy, and mildly earthy taste that delivers a proper balance.

The Thai tea’s major flavor is that of the Ceylon tea which has a smoky and earthy aroma and tastes somewhat like black tea but with a slight hint of citrus and floral tastes blended in. 

This delicious beverage mixes perfectly with other ingredients like tamarind seeds, cardamom, and star anise, to deliver a uniquely complex treat with superb flavor.

Some would say the Thai iced tea somewhat reminds them of southeast Asian cuisines like Pad Thai. Due to the addition of sweeteners like condensed milk and sugar, Thai tea is not like your regular tea but is much thicker and creamier.

Serving it with crushed ice or ice cubes gives it a chilly refreshing feel. Also, the spices used make it taste warm at the same time. 

You can add other flavors, spices, and tea types to give it a more distinct taste.

SEE: Does Thai Tea Have Caffeine?

What does milk tea taste like?

The taste of milk tea varies based on the ingredients used in making it. As I have earlier stated, milk tea varies from one culture or locality to another. The unique ingredients used in its creation give it its unique flavor and name.

While some are smooth, other milk tea variants may be grainy and while some are very sweet and spicy, others may be somewhat bitter and regular. All these depend on the teas used like black tea, green tea, herbal tea, etc. 

Milk tea can also be converted into other beverages like masala chai tea or boba tea (bubble tea).

SEE: Does Taro Tea Have Caffeine? Find Out Here


Does Thai tea have caffeine? 

Yes, Thai tea has a moderate amount of caffeine in it. This stems from the type of tea used in making Thai iced tea. The typical Thai tea uses Ceylon tea which is a variant of black tea. The caffeine content of black tea is moderate but not as high as that of coffee.

Does Thai tea come with pearls?

No, Thai tea does not naturally make use of tapioca pearls in its production. However, you can add tapioca pearls to your Thai tea to make it thick and chewy.

Does milk tea contain caffeine?

Not all milk tea contains caffeine as not all of them use tea types that contain caffeine like black tea or green tea.


Being a creamy and sweet beverage that originated in Thailand, Thai tea makes use of four key ingredients which include sugar, spices, black tea (Ceylon tea), and milk. This means it falls under the milk tea category. 

Hence, Thai tea cannot really be compared with milk tea as it is merely a variation of it. There are more than ten variations of milk tea with each tea being unique with its ingredients and based on the culture or region it originates from. 

However, milk tea and Thai tea have something in common, tea (green tea, black tea, herbal tea, etc) and milk serve as their primary ingredient. 

Finally, while there is no real way to compare Thai tea with milk tea, you can compare it with other milk tea types like masala chai. Find out what chai tea tastes like and how it compares to the rich and creamy taste of Thai iced tea.

I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading.