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Black Tie Coffee Recipe: What Is It and How to Make It?

Do you think you’ve tried all the iced coffee drinks? Think again. Black Tie coffee is a mix of espresso, tea, spices, condensed milk, and cream that will give you a new flavor sensation to experience. 

Intrigued? Here’s all you need to know about the Black Tie, plus tips on making it at home. 

Black Tie Drink Recipe

Where does Black Tie come from?

Like the popular Thai iced coffee (Oliang), Black Tie coffee hails from Thailand and is based on the country’s popular iced tea drink. Traditional Thai iced tea features a spiced tea mix brewed with sugar and served with sweetened condensed milk and a layer of cream. The Black Tie uses the same recipe but with the addition of a shot of espresso.

You cannot commonly find the mix of tea and coffee in Western cafes, but it appears elsewhere in a range of variations. There’s Ethiopia’s spreeze, kopi cham in Malaysia or Singapore, and yuenyeung from Hong Kong (1). In the US, it is more common to mix different styles of coffee, such as with the Red Eye.

Coffee chain Peet’s has a Black Tie offering on its menu, but be aware this is an entirely different drink. It doesn’t contain any tea or espresso but instead mixes cold brew with chicory, condensed milk, and half-and-half (2).

The steps for preparing a Black Tie are straightforward, but you will need a few ingredients and pieces of equipment. 

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp Thai tea mix (see note below)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 shot espresso
  • 1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp cream or half and half
  • Ice
  • Tall glass for serving
  • Saucepan
  • Tea strainer
  • Espresso machine

AT A GLANCE:

BREW TIME

30 minutes

YIELD

1 glass

How do you prepare a Black Tie?

Now, let’s get started with this step-by-step guide on how to make black tie coffee.

1. Prepare the tea

Bring one cup of water to a boil, then switch off the heat. Stir in the tea mix and sugar and leave to steep for 15 minutes. 

2. Strain the tea

Strain the leaves from the tea using a mesh strainer or piece of cheesecloth. At this stage, you can transfer the tea to the fridge and prepare the rest of the drink at a later time. 

3. Prepare the coffee

When you’re ready to finish your Black Tie, it’s time to make your espresso with an espresso machine. Any of the best coffee beans for espresso will do, but traditionally the recipe favors beans with more bitterness to offset the sugar. 

4. Assemble your drink

Putting together the drink is an integral part of the process. You need to do it in the correct order and not stir the layers. Start by filling the serving glass ⅔ of the way with ice. Next, add the condensed milk, the espresso, the sweetened tea, and the cream to finish. 

Related: How to use an espresso machine.

What type of tea is used for making a Black Tie?

To make an authentic Black Tie coffee, you need to use Thai tea mix. This is a pre-packaged blend of black tea and spices that’s traditionally used to make Thai iced tea. The exact recipe will vary from brand to brand, but it usually includes cardamom, star anise, and tamarind, plus food coloring to give it an orange hue (3). 

Thai tea mix is readily available in Asian grocery stores on Amazon, but it’s also possible to make at home by mixing black tea and spices. You can also use plain black tea to make the recipe, but you’ll be missing out on all the flavors that give the Black Tie complexity and elevate it above other iced coffees. 

What are the variations on Black Tie?

A large number of ingredients in a Black Tie allows for plenty of variations. This drink is more about flavor than technique, so you can mix things up in a way that suits your taste buds.

One popular variation is to swap the cream topping with coconut milk. This introduces an added tropical touch that pairs well with the spices.

Whether you’re using Thai tea mix or making your blend, you can experiment with adding more spices and flavors. Standard extras include vanilla and orange blossom water. 

You can change the sugar for the sweetener of your choice, such as honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar, or leave it out altogether. 

The Home Grounds Black Tie recipe uses one shot of espresso, but you’ll see many recipes using two shots. You can play around with the quantity of coffee to suit you.

FAQs

You should drink a maximum of 1-2 Black Tie coffees per day due to the high sugar content. A Black Tie coffee made with the above recipe contains around 24g of sugar. The recommended daily sugar intake is 25g for women and 36g for men (4). Most of this sugar comes from condensed milk, so skipping the sugar in the tea will only reduce the sugar content by 4g.

Making a Black Tie at home without a machine is relatively simple. You need to replace the espresso part of the recipe with 1-2 oz of any strong, concentrated coffee, like a Moka pot or espresso. Another good alternative would be the phin used to make Vietnamese iced coffee.

The taste of Black Tie is creamy, sweet, and spiced, with some bitterness from the coffee. Black Tie coffee is served as a layered drink, and should not be stirred, so you’ll notice that the flavors will change slightly with each sip. It’s a refreshing drink that’s ideal for pairing with spicy food.

  1. Kanniah, J. C. (2021, November 5). Yuenyeung, Kopi Cham & Spreeze: Mixing Coffee & Tea Around The World. Perfect Daily Grind. https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/11/yuenyeung-kopi-cham-spreeze-mixing-coffee-tea-around-the-world/
  2. The Black Tie. (n.d.). Peet’s Coffee. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.peets.com/products/black-tie
  3. Why is Thai Tea Orange? (2019, July 5). Lion Brand Rice: Jasmine Rice Australia. http://www.lionbrand.com.au/blog/why-is-thai-tea-orange-cha-yen
  4. How much sugar is too much? (2021, January 11). www.Heart.Org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/how-much-sugar-is-too-much
Kashmir Brummel
Growing up in a coffee-free household, the discovery of the Moka pot as a teen was something of a revelation. I’ve now upgraded to the AeroPress for my daily brew, with a Hario V60 on hand for lazy weekend mornings.

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