Thai Tea Shortbread Cookies

thai tea cookies
You need unflavored Thai tea, instead of the kind that comes mixed with sugar and powdered cream, to make these tender, buttery sablés. You need to be mindful of the fact that most Thai tea brands include artificial colorings in their product (to give you the signature orange color) and not wear a white top when making these. You need good butter. You need to allow the dough to chill. That’s it. The rest is easy.

If you have a favorite go-to shortbread recipe, by all means, use it. It’s best if that recipe calls for white sugar instead of brown sugar as the color of the brown sugar will kind of mar the orange color of the tea. Oh, and add about a tablespoon of water to the butter when you cream it. This will help the tea to release its signature color and fragrance better.

If you don’t have a go-to recipe, you can use this one.

thai tea cookies
Thai Tea Shortbread Cookies
(Makes 3 dozen 2-inch rounds)
Printable Version

3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons loose Thai tea
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch (British = corn flour)

  • Cream the butter with sugar, tea, and water until homogeneous.
  • Gently beat in the flours just until combined.
  • Place the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap spread out on the counter top. With the help of the plastic wrap, form the dough into a log, two inches in diameter.
  • Twist the end of the plastic wrap to seal the two ends of the log. Chill the dough for about an hour.
  • Preheated the oven to 350° F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets.
  • Slice the chilled dough with a large knife (Chinese cleaver is best!) into approximately 1/4-inch rounds. You should end up with about 36 rounds.
  • Arrange the cookies rounds on the prepared cookie sheets, allowing enough room between the cookies.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the sheets once at 10-minute mark.
  • Let the cookies cool completely right on the cookie sheets.
  • 26 Responses to Thai Tea Shortbread Cookies

    1. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets November 30, 2010 at 1:15 am #

      What an interesting idea. I’ve always enjoyed thai iced tea but never thought about flavoring cookies with it. I like the colors in your photos, too. The second one is especially excellent.

    2. Kevalin November 30, 2010 at 4:45 am #


      It might be a silly question but…How do you keep the shortbread cookies round? Mine tends to go flat on one side, making it more like a half moon instead of full circle.


    3. Leela November 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

      Kevalin – Oh, no, not a silly question at all. Problem with cookie dough logs is that they’re still soft and pliable when you put them in the fridge. The bottoms, therefore, become flat. Martha Stewart has suggested you keep your cookie log inside an empty paper towel roll. I’ve never tried that method.

      What I usually do is wait until the dough is partially chilled, i.e. it’s no longer soft but not completely stiff either, then re-roll the log on the counter top to get it round again before putting it back into the fridge. At that point, the dough log is too firm to go flat at the bottom and usually retains the shape very well.

      When slicing the dough, make sure the dough is very cold and stiff, otherwise the pressure of the knife will cause it to lose the perfect round shape.

      Best bet? Roll out the dough to desired thickness and cut it with a round cookie cutter. I don’t particularly like this method, because I hate cleaning the counter top. 🙂

    4. Megan November 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

      Oh, I want to make these so much, but I don’t have an oven. 🙁

    5. Leela November 30, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

      Megan – Get one. Stat!

    6. lisaiscooking November 30, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

      I love the color! Now, I need to shop for Thai tea. We have lots of tea options, but I don’t remember seeing Thai tea before. Hope it’s available here!

    7. Leela November 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

      Lisa – Thai tea is available almost exclusively at Asian markets specialized in Southeast Asian ingredients. Amazon also has it, I believe.

    8. anna November 30, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

      Awesome! I love Thai tea and shortbreads are so nice when flavored with tea. The color is really pretty.

    9. Jeannie December 1, 2010 at 1:21 am #

      Lovely cookies…am bookmarking this! Thanks for sharing:D

    10. Di December 3, 2010 at 2:58 am #

      Ah, I always wondered why Thai tea had that strange orangey colour. Now I know, but it rather puts me off it if it contains food colouring!

    11. ♥ Ad Hoc Glutton December 3, 2010 at 9:21 am #

      Leela, I tried out your thai tea cookies today! They were really tasty, perfect texture too! Thanks for putting this recipe up 🙂

    12. lacasitainspirada December 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

      Oh yum. I love tea, and I love shortbread with my tea… rolling them together sounds perfect!

    13. ttovie December 11, 2010 at 1:15 am #

      Very cool idea but mine didn’t turn the lovely orange color?!? I used your shortbread recipe, as detailed with the water, and I’ve made the tea up a couple times, so I know it’s colored. Any idea what I might have done wrong? I debated soaking the tea in the water for a couple minutes before creaming with the butter but didn’t. I wonder if that would help.

    14. Leela December 11, 2010 at 1:52 am #

      trivie – hmmm… Not sure why. Could be because different brands have different amount of coloring. Soaking the tea first may be a great idea. 🙂

    15. ttovie December 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

      I’ll try the soaking next time I make them. Thanks 😉

    16. Mary December 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

      leela, I made these cookies for my birthday last month, but I couldnt find thai tea so I used a black breakfast tea instead, with a pinch of cardamom. they were amazing! your recipe was perfectly written, I think it was exactly 20 minutes when they were perfectly done. I know what I’m making the minute I manage to find thai tea!

    17. Leela December 29, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

      Mary – Wow. Genius. I’ll have to try making these with black tea. Thanks for the report and a great idea. 🙂

    18. Lilly February 12, 2011 at 4:34 am #

      This sounds like a great recipe! I might try this with green tea (have no thai tea). Question, what is the cornstarch for?

    19. Leela February 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

      Lilly – Thank you!

      Replacing some of the all-purpose flour with cornstarch (or potato starch) makes for much lighter, sandier texture in this shortbread cookies. I love it.

    20. Maria May 15, 2011 at 9:05 pm #


      Those cookies seem delicious! I’ll try doing it with Assam tea too and see how it goes.
      Do you think I could use soya butter? I am a vegan… and I would love to try your recipe!


    21. Leela May 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

      Maria – Thanks! Soy margarine (which is what I think you meant by soya butter as soy butter in the US is a totally different thing and I don’t want anyone reading this to think soy butter is okay in this recipe) could work, although I have never baked with margarine. A great vegan option is extra virgin coconut oil/butter which I have tried with this recipe with great results. Make sure the oil/butter is in solid state before you use it in the recipe.

    22. mook March 18, 2012 at 10:52 am #

      K. Leela, I have the same problem as others. My cookies doesn’t look as orange as yours. Also I did some more decorative with chocolate dipping which give more sweet on the cookies. My comment though, the tea leaves are too big, I think I might have strain tea before mix it in the butter . Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    23. Admin March 19, 2012 at 12:14 am #

      mook – Thanks for the feedback. With similar comments on this and my Thai Tea Fudge recipe, I’m beginning to think that different brands of Thai tea leaves behave differently. Mine (Pantai Norasingh) is so orange that I have to cut down on the amount for fear that the end result will appear to “fake.” (After all, it’s artificial coloring.)

    24. mel@all.wrapped.up June 7, 2012 at 7:07 am #

      I love Cha Yen. Last time I tried a thai iced tea cake recipe it didn’t turn out so well, so I’ve been dragging my feet about trying this one, but it turned out amazingly! I used a red/white packet brand of tea leaves the only English on the packet identifies it as “number one brand” but it always makes amazing tea. My dough was very crumbly and wouldn’t form a log so I made some cut out cookies which actually taste like Thai Iced Tea. I’m going to try your fudge recipe next. I’ve linked your recipe here (

      Thanks for the recipe

    25. Pep October 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      I made this Thai Tea shortbread couple days ago, they are so good. I mistaken put the dough in the freezer. Well, I let them thaw outside for a while, made a perfect cut. Thanks for the recipe. I divided the dough to round shape and square ones. I can’t wait to try your Thai Tea fudge.


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