thai iced tea

caffeine high = my mania ::::


I don’t drink caffeine very often but when I do there is a good reason. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my cream-laden coffee, or a perfect cup of British tea. It just doesn’t agree with me. People are often surprised that I don’t drink coffee. I made it through medical school and residency training needing very little, getting through more with adrenaline.

So here is a recent scenario.

I am overcome with utter exhaustion after a few nights of poor sleep. I consider my options. Eat suggests making some coffee. Yes!  I think. Good idea, I’ll be perked up and ready to go.  Coffee travel mug in hand: drink, swallow, repeat. A perfect plan. Almost. And so it begins.



So what went wrong? I forgot to eat breakfast.  How could I forget to eat breakfast?  I remember thinking later that day, often something I ask when I’m too tired to remember to eat. I’ve been asking myself that question in other scenarios lately too.

Here is how it played out.

Coffee is in hand. This is great: it’s cream, sweet, I can taste the bitter roasty flavor of the coffee. Why don’t I do this everyday?

Insert work time here. Thirty minutes passes. I am feeling like skipping through the office singing loudly. Kind of like that children’s storybook character Olivia the pig.

I drink more coffee. I continue to see my patients, I answer phone calls, I do paperwork. Whee! I feel like I had 10 hours of sleep last night!

Insert more work time here. An hour passes.

I am seeing a patient, explaining her MRI results, using visual aids and lots of talking with my hands. I realize that I have pressured speech, my hands are jittery, and I can’t sit still (a coffee akathesia, if you will). I am suddenly overcome with the urge to vomit. On my patient. My patient who would never expect to be vomited on by her doctor. I immediately leave the room with the need to answer a “phone call” (rather, visit a trash bin). The feeling passes in a minute, I gallop back into the room with a smile on my face as if nothing had happened.

The afternoon is the opposite. I am dragging, sitting slumped in my chair, reading emails over and over. My eyes are heavy. I have fallen into the abyss of a coffee downer. There is little hope. Life seems to be gray, compared to the bright festival of the morning.

But I did it again, only this time it was in my own home. On a day off from work. While that seems the adult thing to do, I made the poor decision to start drinking the coffee in the late afternoon. For one who already does not sleep well, this is absolute sabotage on my sleep hygiene. What did I think I would accomplish? Clean the toilets at 2AM? Review the brachial plexus? Eat a bowl of popcorn while watching bad reality TV? No, tossing and turning in bed started the night. Staring at the ceiling came second. Feeling a little ill, yet craving more of the creamy tea came next. Next time, I’m trying a caffeine-free version. Guaranteed to be nausea-free, too.


thai iced tea
Recipe type: drink
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1.25 ounces / 35 grams / ⅔ cup loose black tea leaves
  • one star anise
  • 2 thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 2½ cups water
  • 2½ tablespoons sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • ⅓ cup evaporated milk (most authentic), cream or coconut milk (I used cream because that's what I had on hand)
  1. Boil the water and steep the tea leaves, star anise, and ginger in the water for 5 minutes. Strain to remove solids. I ended up with about 2 cups of liquid after straining.
  2. While tea is still hot, stir in sugar until dissolved, then stir in sweetened condensed milk.
  3. Allow tea mixture to cool to room temperature or put into refrigerator. I used the fridge to cool, as I wasn't planning on using ice when serving.
  4. Fill two tall glasses with ice (or not, like me), and pour tea mixture into glasses until about ¾ full.
  5. Slowly pour in evaporated milk, keeping the dairy layer on the top of the tea layer, and DO NOT stir. I used a small strainer to diffuse the pour pressure as I slowly poured in the cream.
  6. Drink slowly. Expect some pressured speech, and perhaps the ability to stay awake for 24 hours.*
* As an alternative, the tea can be made with decaffeinated black tea or caffeine-free rooibos tea. This is something I should have done to start.


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