What’s better than a nice, hot coffee to warm you up in winter, right!? Well actually, an ice-cold coffee in the scorching summer heat! And since Thailand gets a lot of it, there is a very good reason to drink cups over cups of the cool black liquid all year round. Thus, it is also doesn’t come as a surprise that Thai culture has its very own traditional version of iced coffee on offer.
What Is Thai Iced Coffee?
Oliang, or Oleang, is the original name of traditional Thai Iced Coffee. The name is a composition of the words “O” (black) and “Liang” (cold). The expression stems from the Teochew dialect which is spoken by a large number of Thai Chinese people and indicates the origin of the drink.
Unlike typical iced coffee in Western countries, Oliang is not only made with plain coffee poured over ice cubes or refined with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Instead, the flavorful drink is a distinct blend of coffee and several other ingredients. While recipes vary, the most common additives are corn, soy beans, cardamom, sesame seeds and rice. The mix is usually available in the form of powder similar to conventional ground coffee.
Traditionally, Thai iced coffee is brewed with a so-called tungdtom, a filter made from a muslin bag that is attached to a metal ring with a handle. Poured over ice, the Oliang is either served black or with condensed or regular milk. The consumer sometimes get a small cup of simple syrup to sweeten the coffee to taste.
In case you have heard of Vietnamese Iced Coffee before, you may now wonder what the difference is to Thai Iced Coffee. Since more and more cafés – within as well as outside the two countries – start making iced coffee with regular coffee instead of the special blend, the two drinks are becoming more alike. You may often encounter regular iced coffee with condensed milk sold as Thai or Vietnamese Iced Coffee. In the traditional versions, there are two main differences, however. Instead of a muslin filter, the Vietnamese version is brewed with a so-called phin, a metal filtered pour-over. And while the Thai blend comes with seeds and spices, the Vietnamese one is originally mixed with chicory.
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How To Make Authentic Thai Iced Coffee At Home
In Thailand, the typical ice coffee is available on every turn. Whether from street carts, bottled in supermarkets or from a Dum Dum chain restaurant or Starbucks, you are never far from this delicious treat. But you might not be so lucky to afford a quick trip to Bangkok just for a sip of Oliang. Although it would be well worth it.
But no need to miss out completely. We got you covered! Gladly, with the right ingredients and equipment, making Oliang at home is a piece of cake. Although you could make your very own coffee blend, you are well off with a ready-made thai iced coffee mix. You can find these at many Asian supermarkets or simply order online. The caffeine in common mixes resembles that of conventional coffee. So if you are looking for a decaffeinated version, you might have to create your very own Oliang blend though.
For you vegans out there, we recommend replacing the condensed milk with sweetened coconut milk. As a non-dairy substitute, it best resembles the extra sweet touch and creaminess. Of course this only works if you like the distinct coconut flavor. Otherwise, you may simply enjoy the special aroma of Thai Iced Coffee on the rocks.
So now try it for yourself. Here comes our easy Thai Iced Coffee recipe:
2 table spoons Oliang powder
3 table spoons sugar
3 table spoons condensed milk (sweetened)
Scoop the Oliang powder into the muslin filter.
Boil water and slowly pour it through the muslin filter into an empty pan.
Pour the liquid through the same muslin filter again, two more times.
When all the liquid has drained from the filter for the third time, the coffee is ready.
Add sugar and condensed milk and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Cool down the mixture in the freezer for approx. 15 mins.
Pour the coffee into a tumbler over crushed ice and leave some room to top it off with milk or cream.
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How To Use A Thai Coffee Filter
The aforementioned tungdtom is the traditional equipment for brewing coffee or tea in Thailand. The apparatus with the attached cotton cloth bag is super easy to use and principally resembles conventional muslin filters. There are two ways to make Thai coffee. For both, first put the Oliang blend into the coffee sock. Now, you can place the muslin bag in a pot or carafe and pour boiling water through it. Let the sock and coffee powder steep for about 10 minutes until it has developed a strong flavor. For the alternative method, you hold the tungdtom filter over a pot and pour boiling water into it. Once all the water has dripped through the muslin, you pour the liquid into the filter again – a total of three times so that it absorbs a strong flavor.
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