Bubble Tea Ice Cream

If you ask a Taiwanese person to name a few Taiwanese drinks, I can guarantee one of the answers will be bubble tea. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan. I have many fond childhood memories of this drink. Ever since I was a first-grader, I used to visit the bubble tea vendor in Taipei. During the summer, I looked forward to enjoying this treat every weekend. Bubble tea is intriguing because of the “Q” texture of the boba. It has the spongey and bounciness mouthfeel that we Taiwanese people are addicted to. Yes, I love slightly bitter matcha. Yes, I love elegant Earl Grey. Yes, I love relaxing chamomile. But if you asked me if there are any teas I can’t live without, the answer is bubble tea. I’ve lived in New England for more than a decade, and whenever I drink bubble tea, it takes me back to Taipei.

 

One weekend, I took both of my children to Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. To gamble? Of course not! I took them to watch the musical Finding Neverland. At the resort was a Chinese bakery. As you may know, no matter where I go, I care about what I can eat. My nose and eyes are like radars and extremely sensitive to any interesting foods I can eat. It was in that bakery that I discovered the bubble tea popsicle. It was delicious! There was boba inside the popsicle, so when you enjoyed the ice cream, you got to chew the boba hidden inside the popsicle like a surprise!

 

I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I came back, so I had to make it. Being 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), I always have some boba in my pantry. I also have Thai tea leaves from teaching a Thai Immersion Cooking class. Thai tea is made from strongly brewed black tea, often spiced with ingredients such as star anise, crushed tamarind, and cardamom. I infused cream and milk with Thai tea and made the Thai tea ice cream, then I topped it with some boba. Ta-da!

 

Bubble tea ice cream from my kitchen to yours. I hope you will like it!

 

Bubble Tea Ice Cream

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Servings1 quart
AuthorMelissa Lee

Equipment

  • 2 Medium pots
  • Liquid and dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • One medium bowl
  • One large bowl
  • Whisk
  • Rubber spatula
  • Infrared thermometer
  • Fine-mesh strainer
  • Ice cream maker

Ingredients

Ice cream base

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 120 grams sugar
  • 45 grams loose Thai tea
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 large egg yolks

Boba topping

  • One bag of boba
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

To make the ice cream

  • Place 45 grams of loose Thai tea leaves into a teabag.
  • Place milk, heavy cream, and Thai tea bag in a saucepan and heat until scalded. Set aside and let steep for 30 minutes.
  • Whisk yolks and sugar in a separate bowl until it’s in the ribbon stage and a light yellow color.
  • Temper cream mixture into yolk sugar mixture until combined and return to the stove. Continuously stir until thickened or until the nappe stage. Do not go over 180°.
  • Strain into an ice bath to cool. Chill in the refrigerator until completely cooled.
  • Place into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer's directions.
  • Transfer the ice cream to the chilled storage container and freeze until hardened to your desired consistency. Alternatively, you can serve it immediately—it will be the consistency of gelato.

To cook the boba

  • Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons of honey to the cooked boba. Set aside to cool.

Notes

Time management tip

Start ice cream base the day before churning.

Storage Tip

The ice cream will keep frozen for up to 7 days.

Chef’s Note

The key is to find a tea you love—it will make a real impact on the quality of your ice cream.

Did you make this recipe?

 

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Melissa Lee

Melissa Lee

Chief Entertainment Officer

Melissa is 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), where she worked as a food writer. She’s also worked alongside renowned chefs like Ming Tsai and Joanne Chang, honing her craft and gathering stories along the way. Part story-teller, part educator, and part food lover, Melissa brings a special blend of experience, skill, and enthusiasm to her work. She blends her Asian background, her new home of New England, and love of food and culture to bring joy, optimism, and inspiration to food lovers and fun-seekers everywhere.


What sparked your passion for the industry?
The desire to make things by hand. The joy of sharing delicious, hearty food with students. The opportunity for people to get connected via cooking and baking. When a child smiled broadly and told me it’s the best scone he has ever made and eaten, it really made my day!


In your opinion, what’s the most important course?
Well, I usually take a peek at the wine list first. I like tapas style, so the course doesn’t really matter. Cheese and charcuterie are always a good place to start. And since I’m a pastry chef, there is always room for dessert!


Bill Gates is picking up your tab, where would you go?
Noma, Copenhagen.

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