Love coffee ice cream, but seeking a slightly more daring flavor? Well then, try this smoked black tea (lapsang souchong) ice cream infused with a bit of orange zest and the exotic licorice-ness of star anise. If you prefer a less smoky flavor, amp up the star anise from 2 to 4 pods, and double the orange zest. Or try a milder black tea, such as Earl Grey.

Yield: About 2 3/4 cups ice cream base, more once churned!

Prep Talk: Be sure to read the instructions for your particular ice cream/sorbet maker before you start. I use a Cuisinart model with a bin that must be frozen until the cooling agent inside is completely solid, typically overnight. Don’t rush this step; if the bin isn’t completely solid, your ice cream will never freeze. Also thoroughly chill the ice cream base before attempting to churn it. If the base is too warm to start, it can thaw your freezer bin, again preventing the freezing of the ice cream.

A Cool Cup of Tea
A Cool Cup of Tea Photo by Julia M. Usher


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 10 standard-size lapsang souchong tea bags, tags removed (If you can’t find this tea in your grocery, you can purchase Twinings brand here.)
  • Zest of 1/2 large (7 1/2-ounce) orange
  • 2 pods star anise, roughly broken
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten


1 | Steep the tea and other flavorings in the cream and milk. Combine the cream, milk, tea bags, orange zest, and star anise in a medium (3-quart) saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and just bring to the scalding point. The mixture should be steaming, but no bubbles should be breaking on top, or the cream can break. Turn off the heat, and let the tea and flavorings steep in the hot liquid about 30 minutes. (The heat will draw the flavor from the tea, zest, and star anise into the liquid. In culinary-speak, this technique is called “infusing,” and the hot mixture is referred to as an “infusion.”) Remove the bags and other flavorings by straining the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and into a bowl. Squeeze the tea bags over the sieve, so you capture all of their retained liquid in the bowl; then discard the spent bags and other flavorings.

2 | Complete the ice cream base. Clean out and dry the saucepan, and pour the strained cream mixture into it. Gently whisk in the sugar and egg yolks; then place the pan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and just coats the back of a spoon. Do not boil the mixture, or the eggs can cook, leaving behind chewy egg chunk-lets in your ice cream.(Yick!) Immediately strain the mixture into a large bowl (to remove any egg particles or other flavorings you may have missed before); then cover flush with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let the mixture come to room temperature; then chill completely, at least a few hours.

A Closeup of Its Creamy Texture
A Closeup of Its Creamy Texture Photo by Julia M. Usher

3 | Freeze the ice cream base. Pour the chilled base into the chamber of your ice cream/sorbet maker, and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will nearly double in volume (and lighten in color) as it churns so be sure to leave spare room at the top. With my Cuisinart, I typically churn no longer than 30 minutes, after which point the ice cream rarely gets any firmer because the freezer bin starts to warm up.

Immediately after churning, the ice cream will still be rather soft, so I typically wrap the bin tightly with plastic wrap and/or foil and place it in the freezer for another 2 to 3 hours before serving.

4 | Serve it forth. Scoop the ice cream and serve it straight up, as I have above. Or for added flair, serve it with chopped fruit. It pairs fabulously (IMHO) with juicy-ripe fresh pears, peaches, and nectarines or poached versions of these fruits. Slip a little star anise and orange into the poaching syrup to give the fruit a spicy boost that mirrors the ice cream.