Cha Yen

Special thanks to Cha Yen for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Armenian Street (Lebuh Armenian) a popular tourist destination due to a large number of cultural and artistic attractions, including the nearby Khoo Kongsi (邱公司).
Cha Yen (ชาเย็น) is one of the many stalls at this bustling street. As the only refreshments stall at this section of Armenian Street, there is often a line of customers during weekends. The name "Cha Yen" means "iced tea" in Thai. As the name implies, the drinks here are inspired by Thai iced drinks.
There are several types of cold drinks here. Each serving is around 400 millilitres, which is larger than what most drinks kiosks consider "medium size". For convenience, each drink is uniformly priced at RM5.50.
The drinks at Cha Yen are mostly handcrafted, similar to how it is prepared by curbside carts in Thailand. The only exception is a machine to extract espresso shots from ground coffee. Extracting espresso requires higher temperature and pressure that are beyond conventional means. To remain faithful to the Thai versions, most ingredients of the drinks at Cha Yen are sourced from Thailand.
The titular Cha Yen (ชาเย็น) is Thai-style iced milk tea. It is one of the most popular comfort drink among Thais, and also the bestseller at this stall. The drink is prepared from oxidized tea leaves, giving a distinctive imprint of leafy aroma. Per tradition, the drink is prepared using a strainer which resembles a stocking.
Some people may prefer Cha Kheiwy Yen (ชาเขียวเย็น), which is iced milk green tea. Unlike green tea powder which most stalls tend to use, this stall uses ground tea leaves as they provide noticeably better aroma. Compared to the previous drink, this version gives more "leafy" taste but is inferior in terms of aroma.

Creamy consistency is the key to a nice cup of milk tea. The trick is to strike a balance between condensed milk and creamer. In fact, the proportion needs to be adjusted depending whether tea is served hot or cold. Once again, condensed milk and creamer are imported from Thailand.
While Thais also enjoy Milo's and Ovaltine's chocolate malt drinks, this stall opts for custom-ordered cocoa powder from a Thai manufacturer. The powder is extremely fine like sawdust, giving the Coco Yen (โกโก้เย็น) drink silky consistency which soothes the throat. This iced chocolate drink is very rich and has bold cocoa flavor. The chocolaty sensation lingers on the tongue and the mouth roof for quite some time.
Meanwhile, Cafaeyen (กาแฟเย็น) or iced coffee inherits roasted bitterness from its dark roast beans. I feel that the drink does not have the type of milky sensation that I envisioned. I think there is room for improvement in terms of creaminess.

To produce coffee beans, the stall uses a hand-crank coffee grinder. Grinding small amount at a time allows the powder to maintain its aroma for longer period of time.
Fizzy drinks are gaining popularity among Thai youths due to their sharp citrus sensation. There are several types to choose from, such as Cha Nom Yen (ชานมเย็น) and Blue Lemon Soda. Both types of drinks contain soda pop and flavored syrup, but the former also contains condensed milk to give it a pinkish, milky appearance. The latter is dairy-free, but instead uses a lime wedge to produce the thirst-quenching acidic appeal.
At Cha Yen, there are half a dozen types of syrup flavors, such as apple, strawberry, cantaloupe and grape. Syrup is also sourced from Thailand to produce the same taste that Thais love. For example, syrup used for Cha Nom Yen has fragrance and taste that resemble rose or strawberries, but not quite either.
Soda water is also imported from Thailand. There are two brands available; both are very similar in terms of taste.
For convenience, each drink comes with a plastic holder so that customers do not have to get their hands wet and frozen. This innovation has yet to catch on in Malaysia.
According to the proprietor, Cha Yen will be opening another outlet soon. The goal of this drinks kiosk is to introduce popular iced drinks that our northern neighbors enjoy.

Name: Cha Yen (ชาเย็น)
Address: Lebuh Armenian, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 017-441-0041
Business hours: 9:00am-7:00pm, closed on Mondays to Thursdays
Coordinates: 5.41539 N, 100.33719 E
Directions: Cha Yen is located at Armenian Street (Lebuh Armenia), somewhat across Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple (福德正神庙). As a tourist spot, parking in this area is quite limited. Chances are that you need to park several streets away and walk here on foot.

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