Gearing up for summer, there’s more to tea than simply to ice it. I like it really cold and here you will discover one of the richest but relatively simple ways to enjoy tea in a semi-frozen state.  Enriched with dairy, eggs, and a bit of sugar—a semifreddo, a fancy Italian word for “half frozen” – it translates as delicious in any language!

Make this creamy marvel ahead, freeze it well covered, and you will have a dazzling tea-scented dessert on the table in no time. If you like heavily smoked Lapsang Souchongs – as I do – you will yield an iced dessert that carries the true aroma and flavor of the tea. A tea with a lighter smoke will also work,  but may require a bit more steeping time when you are flavoring the base. (See below for details).

Photo of ripe apricots on the tree

I like to serve this with a generous dollop of the first-of-the-season stone fruits: apricots, nectarines or peaches – whichever appears on your farmers’ market tables or supermarket produce aisle. Buyer beware: insist on tasting the fruit before you buy. Once procuring highly perfumed fruit, peel if the skin is tough, then pit, slice and sear over high heat in a heavy pan with a bit of sugar, just until slightly softened and caramelized. Here’s how to make the frozen treat.

Tea Semifreddo

Yield: approximately 24 ounces
Grams Ounces Ingredient
240 8 Whole milk
12 .5 Lapsang souchong tea leaves (other boldly flavored teas work well here too)
1 Vanilla bean, split lengthwise, inside seeds scraped with a small knife
120 6 Egg yolks from large eggs
60 2 Sugar
240 8 Heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks, using a whisk or an electric mixer outfitted with a whisk attachment (think “thick sauce,” not whipped cream)
  1. In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, bring the milk, tea leaves and vanilla bean pod with its seeds, to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, cover the saucepan, and allow the mixture to infuse for approximately 15 minutes. Taste to check on how much of the tea flavor has come through. If not enough to your taste, allow to steep longer.
Photo of a spoonful of creamy tea dessert
  1. Once satisfied that the mixture has enough tea flavor, pour it through a fine- meshed sieve set over a stainless steel or other heatproof bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible from them. Discard the vanilla bean and the tea leaves.
  2. Reheat the infused liquid over low heat until hot. While the mixture is reheating, place the egg yolks and the sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer, outfitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until thick and light in color. The mixture should fall from the whisk in a thick ribbon.
  3. Gradually add the  now-hot infused liquid to the egg mixture (this process is called tempering) and place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  4. Over medium heat, cook, stirring, without aerating, until the mixture reaches 180 degrees F. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If not, continue to cook gently, stirring constantly, until you reach that consistency. (Don’t overcook or you will scramble the eggs–a no-no!)
  5. Remove from the heat, place the bowl over an ice bath to cool quickly, stirring occasionally. Once cool, fold in the lightly whipped heavy cream, blending gently but thoroughly with a spatula, and place the mixture in the freezer in a shallow vessel.
  6. Cover well and freeze until ready to serve.
  7. (If you have an electric ice cream machine, one that turns as it freezes, either the kind that has a canister that you freeze overnight before using, or one that has a coolant built into the machine around bowl in which the mixture is frozen, then, by all means, use it, but if not, simply stir the mixture every once in a while to break up any ice crystals that form during the freezing process. This mixture has enough fat in it to minimize ice crystal production so don’t fret about it too much.)

Photo “mmmm Apricots” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer “kkimpel” and is being posted unaltered (source)

Photo “Lapsang Souchong tea flavoured white chocolate mousse” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Alyson Hurt and is being posted unaltered (source)