I have come to the conclusion that, for me, it’s all or nothing with tea. For the teas that I drink habitually (those from Assam, Sri Lanka, Yunnan or Keemun), sometimes I enjoy them straight and spartanly (no adornments, no sugar, honey lemon or milk. At other times, I go all out, and add cream, fragrant honey or sugar and a twist of lemon. Riffing on the “more is more” approach, I have lately taken to making caramel (burning sugar within an inch of its life but not burning it so much that it is bitter) and adding cream to the hot caramel to round things off. That goes into some of my teas, some of the time. But thinking of creamy tea as the seed of an idea for a dessert sauce has led me to a variant of it as an accompaniment to dessert. Starting simply, pour a bit of brewed tea thickened with reduced cream and sweetened lightly, if desired, over a plain pound cake, a scoop of the best vanilla or intensely dark chocolate ice cream or citrusy lemon or fall fruit tart and you’re on your way to dessert nirvana in a couple of easy steps. Start by picking the tea you love to drink with dairy and then make the sauce as follows.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings as an accompaniment to dessert
2 cups brewed tea of your choice—Indian Assams, Sri Lankan black teas, Chinese black teas all work well here
2 cups heavy cream
Sugar to taste if desired
In a large heavy saucepan, boil the cream until it almost coats the back of a spoon, stirring frequently as it thickens. Add the brewed tea (hot or cooled) to this, continue stirring, and cook until it is of coating consistency again. Add sugar now to taste, if using. Serve warm over almost any dessert of your choice. Everything tastes better with tea—and with cream.