The concept of tea-infused ice cream is nothing new. A search for "matcha ice cream" turns up over 75,000 results on Instagram, and many artisan ice cream shops (at least, the ones in Vancouver) offer an Earl Grey or Chai flavor.

However, when I heard about the line of tea-infused ice cream from Tea-rrific!, I had a flash of inspiration: Who says our repertoire of tea-infused ice cream has to be limited to these flavors? What if one wanted to try an aromatic oolong or a calming herbal tea in ice cream form?

With that vision in mind, I set out to create an easy and versatile recipe that could be used to turn any tea into ice cream. Starting with a no-churn ice cream base, I added a few steps for infusing the heavy cream with tea and figured out how to make the process as simple as possible. Overall, the hardest part will be waiting for the ice cream to freeze before you can eat it.

Tea-Infused Ice Cream

  • Prep Time:8 hrs
  • Cook Time:10 mins
  • Total Time:8 hrs 10 mins
  • Servings:6
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea OR 4 tea bags
tea, herb
Athena Huynh
  • Step 1

    Warm the heavy cream over medium-low heat until it just starts to steam, stirring occasionally.

    milk, coffee, tea
    Athena Huynh
  • Step 2

    Remove the pot from the heat and add the tea leaves or tea bags. An advantage of this recipe is that you can make it with any of your favorite teas. Here I used Thai Tea and Kenyan Purple Tea. Cover the pot with a lid and let it steep for about 45 min.

    coffee, tea, chocolate
    Athena Huynh
  • Step 3

    Strain out the tea leaves or remove the tea bags. Refrigerate the tea-infused heavy cream until it is completely cold.

    coffee, chocolate, cream, tea, sweet, cake, milk
    Athena Huynh
  • Step 4

    Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks.

    cream, milk, chocolate, dairy product, sweet
    Athena Huynh
  • Step 5

    Place the sweetened condensed milk in a mixing bowl and fold in half of the whipped cream. Once that has been fully incorporated, fold in the second half of the whipped cream.

    cream, milk, egg, cake
    Athena Huynh
  • Step 6

    Pour your ice cream into a container and put it in the freezer for at least four hours before serving.

    coffee, milk, cream, cappuccino, espresso, tea, dairy product, pudding, sweet
    Athena Huynh

Tips for Success

Although this is a relatively simple recipe, there are still several ways that it can go wrong (trust me, I speak from experience). I have listed the most common mistakes below to help you make this ice cream as smoothly as possible:

1. Watch the pot. Dairy products tend to boil over very quickly, so don't turn your back on the stove while the heavy cream is being heated. If it does boil over, take the pot off the heat immediately, and the bubbles should die down. Overheating the heavy cream may also cause it to curdle, which gives the ice cream a gritty texture.

tea, coffee, chocolate, cheesecake
Athena Huynh

2. Adjust the steeping time if necessary. Although 45-60 minutes should work for most teas, you can increase or decrease this time according to the strength of the tea and your desired taste. I recommend checking on the tea-infused heavy cream at 15-minute intervals to determine if the flavor is right for you. 

3. Make sure the heavy cream is really cold before you start whipping it. Even though it may be hard to wait, it's important to give the cream enough time to chill. Warm heavy cream doesn't whip as well (if at all), and properly whipped cream is essential to creating a light and creamy texture for no-churn ice cream.

coconut
Athena Huynh

4. Be careful not to over-whip your heavy cream. If you are using an electric mixer, take extra care and stop as soon as the whipped cream holds stiff peaks. Otherwise, the whipped cream may become broken and grainy, but you can fix it by whisking in 1-2 tablespoons of fresh heavy cream by hand.

5. Fold lightly to avoid deflating your whipped cream. Too much folding can knock all the air out of the whipped cream, resulting in a runny ice cream base and a dense, icy ice cream. To avoid this problem, stop folding as soon as the whipped cream is incorporated into the sweetened condensed milk.

milk, dairy product, cream, sweet, flour, coffee
Athena Huynh

6. Use an ice cream maker if you have one. To make this recipe in an ice cream maker, whisk the warm heavy cream from Step 3 into the sweetened condensed milk. Chill the mixture completely before pouring it into your machine. Churn the ice cream until it thickens to the consistency of soft serve (~25 min).

Take Your Ice Cream To The Next Level

Now that you have this basic formula for creating your own tea-infused ice cream, I encourage you to get creative with it. In addition to using different types of tea, you can try one or more of the suggestions below for adding extra flavor to your tea-infused ice cream:

tea, chocolate
Athena Huynh

1. Infuse fresh herbs, whole spices, or citrus zest into the heavy cream in Step 2. Try mint, lavender, ginger, orange zest, or even your own blend of chai spice. Think of your favourite tea, and consider what flavors go into it. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all the possibilities, check out this guide for the best teas for every mood.

cream, milk, chocolate, sweet, coffee, dairy product, ice, caramel, relish
Athena Huynh

2. Whisk some liqueur*, flavored extracts, or cocktail bitters into the sweetened condensed milk at Step 6 before folding in the whipped cream. Start small and gradually increase the amount of flavoring to suit your taste. Cream liqueurs complement strong, full-bodied teas particularly well, and I love the combination of Thai tea and Bailey's.

#SpoonTip: Alcohol lowers the freezing point of ice cream, so I recommend adding at most 1 tablespoon liqueur (40 percent ABV) per cup of heavy cream. I have found that this is the maximum amount of alcohol which will allow the ice cream to thicken properly, and it produces a soft and scoopable ice cream you can eat straight out of the freezer.

tea, coffee
Athena Huynh

3. Fold in macerated fruit or layer your ice cream with jam or compote at Step 7. Berries and stone fruits such as peaches go especially well with tea, and you can search up different flavors of fruit tea for inspiration. This addition also adds an interesting texture contrast and burst of flavor to the ice cream.

With all these possible combinations, the variations for your tea-infused ice cream are endless. I'd love to see what flavors you come up with, so feel free to tag @spoon_ubc and @athenasweets on Instagram to show us your creations. Have fun and stay cool with your tea-infused ice cream.