Tea rooms - turns out my first review is not a tea room

Tea rooms and other places to find good iced tea.

It surprises me that my first review is on a restaurant serving Thai food. What's this have to do with tea or tea rooms, you ask? Well, the people of Thailand make their tea differently than I do. My friend Joy, who knows I like tea, was explaining this to me.

Siam Resturant

Joy's mother runs the SIAM Thai restaurant in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

I did a little research on Siam before I went to eat at the restaurant. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew Thailand used to be Siam. That name made me think of the movie "Anna and the King". For those few people who have never seen it; I say rent the movie. Even better rent both versions of the movie. The first one starred Yul Brynner and Deborah Carr. The second starred Yun-Fat Chow and Jody Foster. I never expected to say this but both movies were very good. Usually one doesn't live up to the other. I'm glad I didn't miss either one.

When I stepped into Rojana's restaurant, I was again reminded of the movie. The atmosphere allows you to feel you are visiting Siam. I've never been there, but remember, I'm comparing it to the movie. Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to see. The culture of Siam (Thailand) is really felt here.

I spoke to Rojana about some of the things I saw. She explained that many of these things were brought from Thailand. It really made me want to plan a trip there.

First let's talk about the Iced Thai Tea or Cha Zen. Cha is the word used for tea in Thailand.

Rojana explained that her recipe was handed down through the generations of her family. Her mother is the one who taught it to her and she still makes the tea for the restaurant today. I'm sure Rojana and her mother will in turn teach Joy. The recipe will continue to be taught along with other things about her culture.

Iced Thai Tea is a sweet iced drink. Rojana gave me a short explanation of how it's made. The mixture of leaves and spices are held in a muslin strainer and placed in a pot of water. It is allowed to boil for a period of time, sugar is added, and then it is strained and cooled. Prepare the drink by filling the glass with ice, pour tea over the ice to two thirds full. Top it off with half and half or sweetened condensed milk. Enjoy!

I also enjoyed a delectable lunch of spicy chicken pad kaprow served with jasmine rice. This is a wonderful dish made with fresh ingredients of chili peppers, onion, bell peppers and basil in a spicy sauce. I was told that all the dishes served at Siam are made fresh.

My meal certainly tasted like it was made by the hands of an expert. If you like spicy, you will enjoy the food served here. This dish is not for the faint of heart, but the adventurous soul will be glad they tried it. Rojana was right when she explained that the Thai iced tea balances out the spiciness of the food.

Vegetarians, you are not left out at SIAM. There are items on the menu especially with you in mind.

I've tried to find the secret recipe for Iced Thai Tea, but it seems making this tea from scratch will be a hit and miss venture at best. Some sources say the main tea ingredient is black loose leaf tea from India or Sri Lanka. Others insist that Thailand grows tea bushes or trees that produce a red camellia sinensis leaf. It seems as though I am not meant to know the answer to this question. There are, however, places where you can purchase a mixture that is ready to brew. It will have all the suspected spices. Cardamom, star anise and cinnamon are said to be some of the main ingredients that give its great taste.

For those who want Thai iced tea but don't want to prepare it yourself visit SIAM in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Experience the tastes of Thailand in an atmosphere that will make you feel like you are actually there.

I really enjoyed being at SIAM. No, it isn't a tea room, but it is a place to experience another culture. A place where tea is prepared a special way. SIAM will be a tea room of Thailand to me.

89 Main St
Fort Lee, NJ
(201) 242-7426

Update on SIAM

For those of you who lived in or near Fort Lee - New Jersey, a dissappointment. Rojana has closed her restaurant. You can still find her serving authentic Thai food and wonderful Thai Iced Tea at her new location:

Siam Basil
Rt. 35 South
SeaGirt, New Jersey

Other tea rooms

Alice's Tea Cup review
If your're in New York City and want to experience a unique tea room, try Alice's Tea Cup

Sisters Specialteas Cafe
Tea shop in Robinson Township Pennsylvania


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