The Science, History, and Ingredients Behind Thai Tea’s Iconic Orange Color


If you love Thai food, you would know that Thai tea is a popular drink that is loved by many. It is not only delicious but also unique with its vibrant orange hue. The orange color may perplex many people, especially those who are not familiar with the drink. In this article, we uncover the mystery behind the orange color of Thai tea. We will delve into the science, history, and ingredients that contribute to this iconic color.

Uncovering the Mystery: The Science Behind Thai Tea’s Orange Color

Before we go into the reasons why Thai tea is orange, let’s first understand what Thai tea is. Thai tea is a tea-based drink that originated in Thailand and is made from black tea, condensed milk, and sugar. It is a highly sweetened and creamy drink that is served hot or cold.

So, what gives Thai tea its unique orange hue? The answer lies in the use of natural food coloring. Thai tea is traditionally brewed with star anise, which is a spice that gives the tea a reddish color. The addition of other ingredients such as tamarind, cinnamon, and cardamom contribute to its orange hue. These ingredients have natural pigments that give the tea its distinctive color.

However, some manufacturers add artificial food coloring to enhance the orange color of Thai tea. This may be due to the preference of consumers who associate the bright color with the drink’s taste or the need for consistency in color for commercial purposes. The use of artificial food coloring raises concerns about health impacts, which we will discuss further in this article.

From Heritage to Hype: The Story of Thai Tea’s Vibrant Hue

Thai tea has a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. Thai tea was originally consumed as a medicinal drink in Thailand before it became a popular beverage. In the 1940s, during World War II, Thai tea was sold on the streets as a refreshing drink for soldiers and civilians. Its popularity grew, and Thai tea became a staple drink in Southeast Asia.

With the growth of Southeast Asian communities in the Western world, Thai tea’s popularity spread, and it became a trendy drink on social media. Instagram users post pictures of their colorful drinks, and Thai tea’s distinctive orange hue has become an icon of Thai culture.

What Gives Thai Tea Its Distinctive Orange Color and How It Affects Your Health

Thai tea’s unique orange color comes from the combination of black tea and spices used in the recipe. Black tea contains natural antioxidants that can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. The addition of spices such as star anise, cinnamon, and cardamom also provides additional health benefits. Star anise has antibacterial properties, while cinnamon and cardamom can reduce inflammation and regulate blood sugar levels.

However, the use of artificial food coloring in Thai tea has raised concerns about its potential health risks. Artificial food coloring has been linked to hyperactivity in children, allergies, and even cancer. While there is no conclusive evidence to prove that artificial food coloring causes these conditions, it is still a cause for concern. It is advisable to consume food and drinks with natural food coloring to ensure a healthier diet.

Thai Tea Revealed: The Secret Ingredients That Create Its Iconic Color

Thai tea’s iconic color is created by a combination of ingredients that work together to provide a unique taste and color. The essential components that contribute to the orange color are black tea, star anise, and other spices such as tamarind, cinnamon, and cardamom. The tea’s base contributes to its color, and some recipes use a mix of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk to create a creamy texture.

An in-depth discussion of the use of spices and herbs in Thai tea reveals the importance of the brand of ingredients used. For example, using high-quality cinnamon can enhance the tea’s flavor and color. The use of tea blends also affects the color and taste of Thai tea. Some manufacturers use Ceylon tea, which has golden tips, to create a lighter shade of Thai tea, while others use Chinese black tea to create a darker color.

Orange is the New Black: The Evolution of Thai Tea’s Signature Shade

Over the years, Thai tea’s recipe has evolved, and different ingredients have been used to create various shades of orange. Some recipes use pandan leaves, which are commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking, to create a greenish tint in the tea. Other recipes use butterfly pea flowers, which turn the tea into a blue color. The addition of these exotic ingredients provide a unique twist to the traditional Thai tea recipe.

The rise of social media and food trends has also played a significant role in the popularity of Thai tea. Instagram users post pictures of their colorful drinks, and Thai tea’s vibrant hue has become a popular trend. As a result, restaurants and cafes have started to incorporate this trendy drink on their menu to appeal to younger customers.


In conclusion, Thai tea’s orange color is the result of natural food coloring and a combination of spices and herbs. While some manufacturers add artificial food coloring to enhance the color, it is advisable to consume food and drinks with natural food coloring to ensure a healthier diet. Understanding the science, history, and ingredients behind Thai tea’s iconic orange color provides insights into the origins and cultural significance of this popular drink.

If you love Thai tea, try experimenting with different ingredients and techniques to create your own unique twist on the traditional recipe. Always remember to prioritize your health and choose natural food coloring to enjoy this delicious drink to the fullest.

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