As summer continues to have its fevered grip late into September where I live (LA), my thoughts turn to ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and sometimes as the sole element of those meals). But tea, perfectly suitable to any kind of weather, has lately been my flavoring of choice to top those ragged scoops of ice cream.  Using high-quality store-bought vanilla or chocolate ice cream as the starting point, I have been letting my imagination run freely over the gamut of tea-based sauces, each of which takes only a few minutes to prepare. Here are some of my favorite pairing ideas and, to get you started onto that cloud of caffeine contentment, a couple recipes for inspiration. (Note: I shared a few of these at the recent first annual Iced Tea Festival in Los Angeles, organized by Chado).

  • Lapsang souchong/dark chocolate sauce, sesame seeds, candied ginger and whipped cream, on vanilla or chocolate ice cream
  • Chai spiced sauce and whipped cream on vanilla or chocolate ice cream; kind of like an affogato where, instead of espresso, the chai tea sauce is used to drown the ice cream
  • Green tea/white chocolate sauce on vanilla ice cream

Photo of a white dish of chocolate ice cream and a spoon sitting on a linen cloth

Lapsang Souchong Dark Chocolate Sauce

  1. Bring 1 c. heavy cream to a boil.
  2. Add 2 T. good quality lapsang souchong tea leaves and remove from the heat.
  3. Allow to steep for about 15 minutes and then pour the mixture through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl.
  4. Add 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate (60 percent cocoa solids and cocoa butter content—the percentage number is shown on many labels).
  5. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir only until the chocolate is completely melted.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir until perfectly smooth.
  7. Serve hot or cool over scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and finely diced pieces of candied ginger, as desired.

Masala Chai Spiced Sauce

I like to make my own mixture of spices and black tea—a few crushed cardamom pods, 2 inches or so of fresh ginger sliced into thin coins, a few whole black peppercorns, and a cinnamon stick or two.

  1. Place the spices into 2 cups of good quality water and bring to a boil. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Add 1 T. Indian black tea and just enough boiling water to make the spices float again, and then allow the mixture to steep for about 3 minutes. Then pour through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl, reserving the liquid and discarding the spices.
  3. Now thicken the sieved mixture with a slurry of cornstarch and water (1 t. cornstarch per 2 T. water for each cup of spiced tea mixture).
  4. Place the spiced tea mixture into a saucepan and heat. Add the slurry gradually, ½ teaspoons at a time, stirring until you reach the desired thickness (only slightly thicker than water; don’t over thicken it; you may not use all of the slurry).
  5. Allow to cool and spoon over chocolate ice cream. Serve immediately with a spiced wafer.

Photo “chocolate ice” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer “Kanko*” and is being posted unaltered (source)