Sip, savour, and get soused: A guide to Thai drinks you need to try

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Thailand is a land of contrasts, and its drinks are no exception. From fresh and fruity non-alcoholic sippers to fiery and potent alcoholic concoctions, there’s a Thai drink out there to suit every taste. Whether you’re a teetotaler or a seasoned drinker, we’ve got you covered with this guide to Thai drinks. So, if you’re looking to expand your palate, let’s take a tour of the best beverages this incredible country has to offer!

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

When it comes to non-alcoholic drinks in Thailand, there’s an incredible variety to choose from. Some of the most popular are:

Thai tea (Cha Yen)

Thai drinks
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Thai tea, or Cha Yen, is the ultimate tropical treat. It will transport you straight to the streets of Thailand. With its bright and bold orange colour, this tea is not just a drink, it’s a feast for the eyes too! But, don’t let the looks fool you. It’s not just the colour that’s bold, the flavour profile of this drink is equally mesmerising.

At the heart of Cha Yen is a blend of black tea, spices, and milk, carefully brewed to perfection to give you that unique Thai tea experience. And, for that extra sweetness, sugar is added to create a balance of flavours that will tantalise your taste buds.

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Sipping on a cold glass of Cha Yen is the perfect way to beat the heat, especially during those long and lazy Thai afternoons. The smooth and creamy texture will refresh and rejuvenate you, while the sweet and slightly spicy flavours will have you coming back for more.

Thai lemonade (Nam Manao)

Feeling thirsty in the tropical heat? Look no further because Nam Manao is here to save the day! This refreshing glass of lime juice, made from a simple combination of lime, sugar, and water, is the perfect pick-me-up for anyone looking to beat the heat. To enhance its already delicious taste, locals sometimes add a pinch of salt to the mix. And let’s not forget about the ice – the more, the better! The tangy taste of lemon makes Nam Manao the perfect accompaniment to spicy Thai curries, cooling down the heat just enough to make your taste buds dance with joy.

Thai ancient coffee (Kafae Boran)

For coffee enthusiasts, Thai ancient coffee (Kafae Boran) is a must-try experience! This unique blend of dark-roasted Robusta beans and sweetened condensed milk was created during World War II, and has since become a staple in cafes and street stalls across Thailand. Every sip of this smooth, rich, and creamy coffee is sure to give you a jolt of energy to tackle the day ahead. But beware, this ancient coffee is known for its potent kick! But if you’re a fan of strong coffee, this is the perfect drink for you.

Thai pink milk (Nom Yen)

Thai drinks
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Move over boring old milk, because Thailand has a bright and colourful alternative! Nom Yen, translated to “pink milk” in Thai, is a delicious sweet treat that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. But what makes it so pink, you ask? The secret lies in the addition of sala syrup, a synthetic blend of the fruit sala, sugar, and water that gives it a vibrant red hue. The serum is then combined with a mixture of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk to make it pink.

Not only does it look pretty, but it’s also the perfect drink to beat the tropical heat, just as the locals do in Thailand. And the best part? You can easily control the sweetness and colour of your Nom Yen. All you have to do is adjust the amount of sala syrup used.

Krating Daeng

Get ready for a boost of energy in a bottle! In Thailand, locals rely on Krating Daeng for a quick pick-me-up. This Thai twist on the popular energy drink is known for its lack of carbonation, making it a unique experience for those familiar with Red Bull. The drink comes in a small glass bottle that may look like cough syrup to some, but don’t let the appearance fool you!

With its strong hit of sugar, Krating Daeng can give you a rush that’s almost like a sugar high. But don’t worry, the effect is short-lived and wears off after a few hours. Just like the logo suggests, Krating Daeng literally translates to “red bull.”

Alcoholic Thai Drinks

Did you know that Thailand has a wide range of alcohol? Yes, while the country isn’t well known for its alcohol, you’ll definitely find some interesting drinks here.

Sang Som

Sang Som is a spirit that is made from a blend of sugarcane or molasses with various herbs and spices, making it a unique and delicious alcoholic beverage that is not found in many other places. It was first introduced in 1977. Since then, it has maintained its position as one of the best alcohol brands in the Southeast Asian region. With an alcohol content of 40%, it is a strong drink that should be consumed with caution. It goes through a five-year ageing process in charred oak barrels, which creates a smooth and sumptuous alcoholic drink that is a classic in Thailand.

The drink has a sweet, oaky, and rich flavour that makes it the perfect drink for hot weather. Whether it’s served as a shot or mixed with juices or sodas, Sang Som is a drink that will surely leave a lasting impression. It is a popular addition to beachside cocktails and party punches in the tourist districts of Thailand. Moreover, it’s known for its ability to quickly make someone feel drunk after a couple of shots. The flavour profile of the drink is complex and layered, making it a must-try for anyone who is looking for a new and exciting alcoholic beverage.

Mekhong Thai Spirit

Get ready for a spirit-ual journey through Thailand with Mekhong! This golden elixir is a staple of Thai culture and has been around since 1941. Named after the famous Mekong River that runs along Thailand’s borders, this drink is a blend of molasses, glutinous rice, and natural Thai herbs and spices. Contrary to popular belief, Mekhong isn’t whiskey. It’s instead a closer relative to rum, with a smooth and distinct flavour profile that’s both sweet and spicy. You’ll find hints of chili, vanilla, herbs, and spices in every sip. That’s why it’s a must-try for anyone visiting Thailand.

For the perfect summer refresher, mix Mekhong with your favourite fruit juice and plenty of ice. It’s a cheap and cheerful way to enjoy a delicious alcoholic drink and experience the unique flavours of Thailand. With its 35% alcohol content, Mekhong is the perfect choice for those looking for a sweet and spicy escape from the mundane. So, go ahead, give it a try, and let the spirit of Thailand transport you to a place of pure bliss.

Sato

Sato is an essential part of Thai culture, particularly in the Northeastern Isan region where it originated. This traditional rice wine is made from a mixture of sticky rice, rice starch, yeast, and a blend of herbs and spices. The ingredients are then fermented for several weeks to produce a sweet, flavorful, and low-alcoholic drink. The result is a drink with unique taste and aroma, as well as sweet and smooth flavour.

Sato is widely consumed by the locals, particularly during celebrations. The drink is usually served at room temperature in large bowls. And guests are invited to scoop it up themselves, making it a social and communal drink. However, despite its widespread popularity, Sato remains a liqueur that is produced on a small scale, mainly due to its short shelf life.

Chang Beer

Sip, savour, and get soused: A guide to Thai drinks you need to try | News by Thaiger
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Chang beer is a Thai lager beer that was introduced in the mid-1990s to compete with Singha beer. With its amber colour, unique taste, and various styles, Chang quickly became the best-selling beer in Thailand, just five years after its introduction.

The original Chang beer is the Chang Classic. It’s a traditional lager made from hops, malt, rice, and yeast with an alcohol content of 6.4%. This beer has gained immense popularity in Thailand and other Asian countries. Therefore, it’s a must-try for anyone visiting Thailand.

Lao Khao

Get ready to take your taste buds on a wild ride with this fiery Thai spirit. It’s like a tiger in a bottle, with a bite as sharp as its stripes. Lao Khao first appeared on the scene in the 1950s, around the same time as Mekhong. It has been making waves ever since. If you’re ever in the rural inland areas of Thailand and can’t find Lao Khao, just ask for Sura Khao, it’s the same thing!

This spirit is made from fermented rice and packs a powerful punch with an alcohol content ranging from 28% to 40%. So hold on tight, this one’s going to be a wild ride. Lao Khao is a favourite among working-class citizens in Thailand due to its affordability and accessibility. It’s a staple at the local pubs and bars. Moreover, it’s the perfect companion to a spicy Thai meal or a salty snack.

The name Lao Khao means “white spirit”, but don’t let that fool you. This spirit is actually crystal clear. The clear liquid has a sharp, distinct flavour that will make your taste buds tingle. But beware, with the high alcohol volume, this drink is not for the faint of heart

Thai drinks are a celebration of the senses, and they offer something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a fresh and fruity non-alcoholic drink to cool you down on a hot day, or a fiery and potent alcoholic beverage to warm you up on a chilly night, Thailand has got you covered. So, go ahead and treat yourself to a sip, a savour, and get soused with these amazing Thai drinks!

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Alina Marcelo

Alina Marcelo is a Canadian blogger and journalist living in Thailand. She has been living in the country since 2016, and is passionate about exploring its diverse culture and landscapes. She has written extensively on topics such as Thai cuisine, travel, and culture for various publications. Her work has been praised for its creativity and insight.

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