milk tea ice cream recipe
i love making tea flavored desserts (ahem, this green tea pie even though pies take forever) and eating tea flavored ice cream (hello, homemade matcha cherry creamsicles and jasmine ice cream from sf’s polly ann), so it was only a matter of time before i made milk tea ice cream at home.
i already have an earl grey tea flavored ice cream, and this one is super similar, except that i used black tea instead of earl grey and didn’t top that one with boba (but you definitely could)!
this milk tea ice cream (which is really a tea ice cream, there’s no additional milk or milk tea added) has black tea leaves steeped in a custard base (from melissa clark), which gets churned into ice cream! cooking the eggs, milk and cream might be a little scary if you haven’t made ice cream before (or in a while), but in case there’s some stubborn scrambled egg bits, you can strain out the egg and you’re good to go.
once the ice cream is churned, i like to transfer it to a long, shallow container and freeze until solid. the shape of the container helps you create a prettier scoop of ice cream, since you can run your ice cream scoop the length of the container and keep building up the ball, rather than aimlessly in a circle around the inside of a pint container.
i did originally try to pipe the ice cream like the oolong soft serve from bar pa tea, the main inspiration behind this recipe. it was not meant to be: the ice cream is too soft to hold its shape when it is freshly churned, and refuses to come out of a piping tip when it is firmer. the flavor and texture of the ice cream doesn’t change when you pipe it this way, only the aesthetic, so i find it much more worth it to skip the hassle and dig in with an ice cream scoop.
how to make brown sugar syrup
you could stop there with your ice cream, and have a delicious batch of milk tea ice cream. or you could go further, and make it into boba tea ice cream with a little brown sugar boba because we allll love brown sugar pearl milk and those elusive brown sugar boba ice cream bars. (in case you need a refresher: brown sugar pearl milk is boba simmered in brown sugar syrup and topped with plain milk, and the bars channel that into a popsicle).
using jun and tonic’s brown sugar syrup method, i like to caramelize and fry the brown sugar in a dry pot for a bit. this makes the brown sugar a little bitter, a little more nuanced, rather than being plainly sugar sweet. once it’s heung (aka fragrant) and the sugar is mostly melted, you add a bunch of water; it sputters aggressively, like when you add cream to caramel. the sugar seizes for few seconds, then relaxes back into the hot water. the boba goes in for a simmer, letting the boba soak up all that goodness and the syrup to thicken.
that warm boba, caramel-y and syrup-y, dripping all over the slightly bitter, creamy tea ice cream? it’s enough to get a person to ditch the storebought popsicles.