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Cha Manao Recipe (Thai Lime Iced Tea)

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Cha manao recipe, the best Thai lime iced tea you’ll ever try! If you’re in search of a quick and easy refreshing Thai iced tea beverage just like you’d find at the street food stalls of Thailand, then you’ve hit the jackpot.

Refreshing glass of cha ma nao, Thai lime iced tea.

This drink is healthy and perfect for summer with the perfect blend of sweet, sour, and irresistible.

Serve it with two of my favorite Thai drink recipes! My green Thai tea recipe is a double-layered party starter, and nom yen is a total crowd-pleaser.

What is cha manao

Cha manao is a citrus-infused Thai iced tea, sometimes served at Thai restaurants and street food markets. It’s a refreshing drink that blends freshly squeezed lime juice with sweet, aromatic tea, creating a balance of tangy and sweet flavors.


Cha manao is also known as cha ma now and cha ma nao where ‘cha’ means ‘tea’ and ‘ma nao’ means ‘lime’.

Smiling Thai woman presenting cha manao, classic Thai lime iced tea, against a rural backdrop.

The flavor of cha ma nao is a blend of sweet and sour. A zesty, fresh punch of lime juice is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of sugar and the natural flavor of the tea.

Thai lemon tea

In Thailand, lemons are not as readily available as limes, which can be found at every food market. You might think Thai tea is sometimes made with lemons, but we always use limes for making Thai iced tea.

Thai lime iced tea

This Thai iced tea limeade is a perfect combo of slightly sweet, tangy, and refreshing – it’s an instant recipe for happiness!

In Thailand, iced drinks are a daily ritual. With the extremely hot weather, we love icy beverages, sometimes to the point where cups overflow with crushed ice. Thailand is the place-to-be for icy drinks like cold Thai coffee, Thai tea, and Thai milk tea.

Now, let’s talk about the genius simplicity of Thai iced tea with lime. It’s made from the same tea mix as the classic Thai tea, but without the condensed milk and with fresh lime juice. The result is a tangier and lighter drink, a bit like a lemonade.

Thai lime iced tea, cha ma nao, served in a long glass with straw.

Making it at home is SO EASY, and you actually get to choose how sweet you want it. You only need five ingredients for a glass of perfection, and you’ll love how quick it comes together.

Another thing you’ll love is how versatile this Thai lime iced tea recipe is. Make your cha manao sweeter, add more of that tangy lime, or add your favorite ingredients.

It’s simple, refreshing, and perfect for summer!

Thai tea mix

The Thai tea mix, known as “the Number-One Chatramue Original Thai Tea Mix” is a key ingredient for making an authentic cha manao. It’s the essence of what makes this Thai lime iced tea so special.

A bag of Chatramue Thai Tea mix in a store.

In Thailand, the Number-One brand (Chatramue) is beloved for its quality and authenticity. It’s the go-to choice for beverage vendors at street food markets and for those who like to make drinks at home.

If you can’t find this specific brand, others work just as good!

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients for cha manao labeled: Thai tea mix, hot water, lime juice, and white sugar.
  • Number-One ChaTraMue original Thai iced tea mix – This Thai tea mix is a must for authentic Thai lime iced tea.
  • White sugar – Sweetness is necessary for balancing out the tangy zest of fresh lime juice. It creates a sweet flavor that complements the sharp citrus notes. Feel free to add more or less sugar to taste.
  • Lime – Lime adds refreshing, tangy notes to your cha manao. The acidic juice infuses the tea with a zesty flavor, perfect for a refreshing drink.
  • Hot water – Hot water is essential for extracting the tea’s flavor.
  • Crushed ice – Essential for making a Thai lime iced tea.

How to make cha manao

Thai tea leaves in a white cloth filter.

Step 1: Place Thai black tea leaves in a cloth filter.

Pouring hot water for Thai tea through a cloth filter.

Step 2: Carefully pour the hot water through the filter into a pitcher.

Dark Thai tea steeping in a pitcher.

Step 3: Allow the tea to steep until it reaches a rich, dark color, approx 2 minutes. Then remove the filter and stir in the sugar. Let the tea cool before refrigerating.

Thai lime iced tea in a dispenser, ready to serve.

Step 4: Once chilled, stir in fresh lime juice.

Cha manao, Thai lime ice tea, poured in a glass.

Step 5: Fill a long drink with crushed ice and pour in your cha manao. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Kitchenware

  • Tea infuser or tea socks / French press / fine mesh strainer / cloth filter
  • Ice cube trays or crushed ice maker for chilling
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Pot for boiling water
  • Tall glasses for serving
  • Stirring spoon

Lime Thai tea variations

Adjust the flavors: Experiment with different sweeteners like honey and make your tea more or less sweet. Add more or less fresh lime juice to alter the tangy flavor.

Change the tea base: This authentic recipe is made with Number-One Thai tea mix, a staple in Thai cuisine. Feel free to experiment with other black tea leaves or even green tea for different flavors.

Experiment with citrus: While lime is traditional, trying other citrus fruits like lemon and orange is totally ok.

Iced or warm: Serve cha manao ice-cold for a refreshing summer drink, or try it warm during cooler weather for a comforting drink.

Creamy version: Add a splash of coconut milk or sweetened condensed milk (or evaporated milk) for a creamier milk tea.

Make it sparkling: Use sparkling water instead of still water for a fizzy version of the tea.

Bubble tea: Add tapioca pearls and turn it into boba tea.

Thai iced tea with lime serving ideas

Fill your glass with crushed ice or ice cubes to the brim. Pour the tea over the ice, and optionally leave a little room at the top for garnishes. Garnish with fresh lime slices, mint leaves, or even edible flowers.

Pair this refreshing drink with one of my many Thai food recipes like Thai vegetable spring rolls and grilled Thai shrimp lettuce wraps. It’s also perfect for balancing out the heat in spicy dishes like pad kra pao.

Cha ma now storage

Let your tea cool to room temperature. Pour it into a clean, airtight container, like a glass jar or pitcher. Refrigerate for up to 4 days, but ideally consume it within a day. Try to store your Thai lime tea without garnishes. Alternatively, you can store it in a cool room for a day or two.

Frequently asked questions

Why is Thai tea orange?

Thai tea is orange because it’s made with black tea leaves and red food coloring, giving it the distinctive orange hue.

What is the meaning of cha manao yen?

Cha manao yen translates to “cold lime tea” in English. It’s a Thai iced tea made with freshly squeezed lime juice, offering a refreshing and tangy flavor.

What is the difference between Thai lime iced tea and Thai iced tea?

Thai lime iced tea is made with lime juice. Thai iced tea, known as cha yen, is a sweet tea often served with condensed milk, lacking the lime.

How much caffeine is in Thai iced tea?

The caffeine content in Thai Iced Tea can vary, but on average, it contains about 20-60 mg of caffeine per cup, depending on the strength of the tea brew and the type of tea leaves used.

Thai drink recipes

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Cha Manao Recipe (Thai Lime Iced Tea)

Refreshing glass of cha ma nao, Thai lime iced tea.
Quick, easy, and delicious! This cha manao recipe makes the best Thai lime iced tea you've ever tried.
Praew
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Drinks
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Thai tea leaves
  • 13.5 fluid ounces hot water
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1.7 fluid ounce fresh lime juice
  • crushed ice

Instructions

  • Place Thai black tea leaves in a cloth filter.
  • Carefully pour the hot water through the filter into a pitcher.
  • Allow the tea to steep until it reaches a rich, dark color, approx 2 minutes. Then remove the filter and stir in the sugar. Let the tea cool before refrigerating.
  • Once chilled, stir in fresh lime juice.
  • Fill a long drink with crushed ice and pour in your cha manao. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Serve chilled or warm!

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