Normally, green tea ice cream is made with matcha. The powder creates the characteristic bright green colour. I find matcha a little difficult to find and on the expensive side, so I was delighted when I came across this recipe that used tea bags (or loose tea) instead. While you don't get that vivid green, the flavour is nearly identical if you use enough tea leaves and steep overnight. I used the freshest and highest quality tea that I could find. Try to use loose tea if you can get it; the flavour will be better because the tea can circulate more easily.
I reduced the sugar a little and used a lighter honey to ensure that the delicate tea flavour remains the focus. I also cut the egg yolks down by one because the custard was already rather rich. All the sieving and chilling are necessary steps to make the smoothest ice cream (straining removes stray tea bits and possible curdled egg, and the chilling makes for finer frozen crystals). The cream and egg yolks keep the frozen goodness silky smooth. It serves very nicely straight from the freezer, whether you choose to dish it or just dig in with a big spoon.
Green Tea Ice Cream (made with tea bags)
1 1/2 to 2 cups milk (see Note)
2 Tbs. loose green tea or 6 green tea bags
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. honey
Directions:In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the loose tea or submerge the tea bags in the hot milk. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or remove the tea bags from the milk, gently squeezing them to extract their liquid. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the tea-infused milk and 1 cup of the cream. Cook over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Whisk until the sugar dissolves. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and add the honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.
Note: If using loose tea, you will need to use 2 cups milk; if using tea bags, use 1 1/2 cups milk.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Ice Cream
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