Prior to April this year, Medina was flying around the world as a flight attendant for a major international airline.
These days, she may not be in the galley as much but she is still whipping up food —desserts more specifically — in her home kitchen, where she is running her new venture called Thait.sg.
Like most workers in the airline industry, her livelihood is drastically affected when the Covid-19 pandemic grounded a lot of flights.
Her two-month-old home-based business specialises in everything Thai tea, hence its name Thait.sg.
From Thailand to Thai tea
Medina, or May as she is more commonly known as, was born and raised in Thailand where she stayed with her family in the outskirts of Bangkok.
She came to Singapore just four years ago to work for the airline.
It was also during this time that she met her then boyfriend who was also a flight attendant. They recently got married in February, just before the Circuit Breaker rules were enforced.
Prior to getting married, she converted to Islam and was drawn to the name “Medina” which she eventually chose to be her Muslim name.
At the height of Covid-19, May found herself flying lesser and lesser as air travel came to a standstill.
With the newfound free time that she had, May yearned to run her own business.
She did not need to look far for inspiration as her own family was already quite enterprising.
“My mum owns a coffee shop in Thailand, and my sister just opened a small cafe in Bangkok,” she says. “So I thought, if my family can do it, why can’t I?”, May explains.
Her sister showed May the plastic drinking pouch that she uses for her coffee, which inspired May to do the same for Thai milk tea here.
According to May, selling Thai milk tea came naturally to her as she grew up drinking the beverage and she reckoned Singaporeans who miss travelling to Thailand would appreciate it as well.
From that moment on, May quickly began to work on making her business idea a reality by ordering supplies, designing the logo, and setting up @thait.sg on Instagram.
Thai milk tea overshadowed by an unexpected hit
While she was waiting for her orders to arrive, May saw an Instagram post by her friend in Australia who just made Thai tea crepe cake.
She thought that the cake would be a good complementary product to her Thai tea, so she began learning how to make it herself by trying out numerous online recipes.
Here is our review of the Thai tea crepe cake:
May admits that baking is not a skill she is particularly good at, though.
Fortunately for her, her mother-in-law whom she is currently staying with, is.
With her help and advice, May was able to refine the crepe cake recipe to one that she is eventually proud of.
A whole 8-inch cake sells for $40 while slices go for $7 each.
Today, the Thai tea crepe cake is Thait.sg’s best-selling item, overshadowing the Thai milk tea.
“I think it’s because people are able to get Thai milk tea anywhere these days. Thai tea crepe cake, not so much,” explains May on the novelty and popularity of the cake. “It’s also fun to pour the Thai tea sauce on it.”
This is despite her Thai milk tea being one of the better ones we have ever tried. It was a nice balance of sweet and creamy, and was perfectly gao.
When asked about specific ingredients she uses for the milk tea, May politely declined to disclose her secret recipe.
She did have a surprising revelation, though.
According to May, she only makes the milk tea in one-litre batches at a time, regardless of the number of orders she has. She also does not re-steep used tea leaves.
This is to ensure optimum flavour and quality for every order.
We know most sellers would make their drinks in bulk to save time and effort, so May’s dedication in her craft is truly commendable.
At $3 for a 200ml pack and $12 for one litre, May’s Thai milk tea is admittedly more pricey. But at least now you know why.
Front-liners became initial customers
As most of her friends and family are back home in Thailand, May does not have a large network from which she can tap on to sell her goods to.
Fortunately, her husband who is currently working as a Care Ambassador at a hospital helps out by bringing some of May’s food to work to let his co-workers try.
May received positive response for the food as well as initial orders from the workers at the hospital, some of which became return customers.
At the same time, May also tapped into the Muslim community by seeking out halal food influencers and content creators to share her products with.
This was also how we came to know of Thait.sg.
As news about a Thai girl selling Thai milk tea and crepe cake spread via word-of-mouth and social media, business for Thait.sg began to grow.
Challenges keeping up with the demand
With business going on an upward trend, May is finding it harder to keep up with the demand.
“I have a lot of orders, but I can only do 5 to 6 cakes a day,” she says. “On most days, I start work at 12pm and finish late at night.”
Unsurprisingly, most of her time is spent on the crepe cake which is known to be a laborious cake to make.
On top of preparing the cake batter one night before, the additional steps of frying the crepe layers, whipping the cream, making the Thai milk tea sauce, and assembling the cake is proving to be time-consuming.
One cake takes May almost 3 hours to make.
At the same time, May has to be mindful about sharing the kitchen space with her mother-in-law who also runs a home-based business selling macarons.
Between the two of them, they have three fridges at home to store their products. But, these are still “not enough”, May admits.
Due to all these factors, May can only commit to a number of orders a day.
When asked if she is facing any other challenges, May recalls “Sometimes, customers text me in Malay and because I don’t understand, I don’t know how to respond!”
Thankfully, her mother-in-law helps to translate.
Whilst May is still learning Malay “sikit-sikit”, she urges that customers speak to her in English or even Thai if they know the language.
Thait.sg to remain as backup plan
With the future of aviation hanging in the balance, May is unsure if she will be able to fly again soon, or at all.
Even if she were to resume work as normal, May intends to continue taking orders as and when she can.
For now, she is keeping to a certain schedule which allows her to bake on certain days and still spend time with her husband and family on others.
Customers who intend to order from her can check out @thait.sg for next available dates.
Having said that, May does take ad hoc orders time to time, depending on her availability.
To place an order, fill up the order form on @thait.sg.