Man, do I wish this Earl Grey Tea ice cream were sitting in my freezer right now on this hot-ass weekend, but it’s not. I made this ice cream about a month ago, and it is long gone!
In the winter months I buy a big box of assorted teas that are put on the market for holiday gifts – you know, the ones with four each of sixteen different varieties. I really don’t care which tea bag I use to steep my morning cup of tea; I have no preference. But that changed with a batch of truffles I made a few months ago.
I made Earl Grey tea truffles (along with basil, port, and curry truffles) a few months ago, and it turned out that I absolutely loved the Earl Grey truffles. I couldn’t stop eating them. The Earl Grey truffles went long before the others.
Then I left an empty tea cup with an Earl Grey tea bag still in it on my computer desk. I kept getting wafts of this wonderful smell, and realized it was coming from the tea cup, so picked up the cup and started huffing what I can only describe as my most favorite scent in the world – fragrant tea olive (nothing to do with olives or the actual plant tea comes from, but the flowers are used to scent teas).
I know that what I smelled in the tea cup is the sweet, floral, citrus smell of Bergamot oil used in Earl Grey tea, but this particular used cup and tea bag smelled like fragrant tea olive flowers to me.
Fragrant tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans) is an evergreen shrub with fruity, sweet-smelling flowers, that unfortunately does not grow as far North as Pennsylvania (add fragrant tea olive to the list of requirements for the next place I live, along with Waffle House and no snow), but it is in almost every backyard in the state I grew up in, South Carolina. The tiny flowers are barely visible, but the intoxicating scent can travel blocks on a breeze.
Sorry to be all dreamy about this scent when I’m not capable of providing smell-o-vision, but it really is a scent that takes me back to playing outdoors as a child on cool fall, winter, and spring nights (grown outdoors, it blooms every month with an “R”, or so the saying goes).
Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream
makes about 1 quart
1 cup whole milk
2 cups half and half (can use heavy cream for a richer ice cream)
3/4 cup sugar
5-6 Earl Grey tea bags
5 egg yolks
- Warm the milk, half and half, and sugar in a saucepan. Remove from heat, place tea bags in the pan, cover and steep at room temperature for an hour. Remove tea bags.
- Rewarm tea-infused milk. Whisk egg yolks together in a separate bowl. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the bowl with egg yolks, whisking constantly.
- Return the milk and egg mixture to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the pan constantly until the mixture thickens to a custard and coats the spatula.
- Cool the mixture, and freeze in your ice cream maker.