When most people hear about tea from Thailand they think of the Thai tea mix of Ceylon Tea blended with sugar and condensed milk which is poured over ice. The Thai ice tea is a popular drink served throughout the country and also across the world in Thai restaurants and coffee shops. However, ice tea isn’t the only tea to be produced in Thailand.
Cultivated in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern Thailand, tea production started in the area when Chinese escaping the revolution in China were invited to settle in Northern Thailand. With them they brought not only their families but their culture, including their love of tea.
Tea plantations were established on the Doi Tung and Doi Mae Salong mountains and they started to produce fine Thai Oolong Tea. Chiang Mai is another area of tea production, a particularly famous tea plantation in the area is Araksa plantation. Chiang Mai is also full of incredible tea shops, just like the Northern Mountains are where you can visit the Siam Tea Shop.
The Oolong Tea produced in the region is said to be one of the finest in the world but Thailand does produce other varieties of tea alongside oolong. Green teas and more recently, black teas which are produced from tea plants imported from Taiwan.
Thai teas are sometimes marketed as red tea, although this shouldn’t be confused with the South African rooibos tea as it is in fact the same as what the Western world usually refer to as black tea. It is often known as red tea in Asia due to the colour of the liquor when steeped. Thailand now exports around 200 tons of tea per year and is making a name for itself in the tea world.
The Doi Tung Mountain famously produces organic Thai tea. In the 1980’s the area underwent a reforestation and development program overseen by the royal family. It was decided that the development program should reproduce natural conditions so no chemical or hazardous substances are used on the crops.