Nearly every day, for the past three weeks, I have woken up, tied back my hair, thrown on a tank-top and Chacos, and ventured out into the dry heat of Thailand (or Cambodia, for a brief period.)
The one thing that makes this heat worth it for a cranky morning bear like me is the promise of a tea or coffee — Thai style.
Thai tea and Thai coffee are commonly served over ice in large plastic cups. They are sweet and delicious, the absolute perfect way of starting the morning or boosting you through the steamy afternoons.
And watching the drink maker at their art is half the fun.
They take freshly ground coffee or powdered tea and steam it with boiling water. While letting the drink settle, they fill a tall cup to the brim with ice, before pouring the freshly brewed, hot tea or coffee over the top. The result is a perfectly iced glass of Thai tea or coffee.
Like most foods and drinks, the quality varies from place to place. You can easily pop into any cafe or restaurant for a high end, whipped-topped, tea or coffee. You can find pre-made dispensers full at 7/11 to buy a Big Gulp size. But my favorite is heading to the nearest street vendor to watch the magic show.
I have never been able to walk more than a few feet in Thailand without running into some sign advertizing the sweet, dark coffee, or orangey tea although I have seen prices ranging from just 10 Baht (on the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai) to 60 Baht.
For anyone like me who needs a jolt of caffeine a few times a day to keep from snapping at the pushy tuk-tuk drivers and slow-walking tourists, Thai tea and Thai coffee is a saving grace.
Tomorrow, I return to Indonesia and know that these beverages are what I will miss the most. RIP to my caffeine levels. I would say pour one out for my homies, but I wouldn’t dare waste a drop.