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Tea Custard Recipe with Poached Fruit

Stimulate your senses and taste buds with this bold Tea Custard recipe.

From “Bitter”
February 2016

  • Poached apricots or pears will play up the tannic taste of the orange pekoe tea used in this custard recipe.
    Photo by Aya Brackett
  • Rethink your relationship with the foods you eat with recipes from Jennifer McLagan’s “Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor.”
    Cover courtesy Ten Speed Press

Yield: Makes 2 cups / 500 ML

Bitter tastes can be an indicator for poison, so developing an appreciation for this flavor comes with age and experience. Jennifer McLagan’s Bitter (Ten Speed Press, 2014) will take you on an exploration of this misunderstood flavor. Discover how to add a touch of bitter to dishes to create exciting flavor dimensions and memorable meals. The following recipe for tea custard tastes great with warm poached fruits, like apricots and pears.

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Bitter.

This started off as one recipe and ended up as two. I wanted to make Tea Ice Cream and began with a traditional custard base. When I took the mixture out of the refrigerator to churn it, I thought, why not just serve it as tea custard with poached fruit? Now, the choice of fruit is important. The tannins in the tea are strong and for that reason I think you should stay away from berries.  I like to play up the tannins and match it with poached pears or apricots.  When you cook apricots, they develop a tannic taste. Serving the custard cold with warm poached fruit also stimulates the trigeminal nerve, which senses the temperature of food. Poached peaches would also be a good match.

Tea Custard Recipe with Poached Fruit


• 2 cups / 500 ml whole milk
• 2 tablespoons / 1/3 ounce / 10 g orange pekoe tea leaves
• 5 egg yolks
• 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 2-1/2 ounces / 75 g sugar
• A pinch of fine sea salt
• 1-1/2 cups simple syrup
• 12 apricots, halved and pits removed, or 2 pears, halved


1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the milk; remove the pan from the heat and stir in the tea leaves. Cover and leave to brew for 20 minutes. Strain the milk into a measuring cup, pressing on the leaves to extract all the liquid. Discard the tea leaves.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until light in color and thick, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Pour the mixture into a clean pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture into a bowl and cool quickly by placing it in a larger bowl or a sink filled with cold water and ice. Stir the mixture often. When it is cool, cover and refrigerate.

3. Pour the syrup into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the fruit, lower the heat so the syrup barely simmers, and cook the apricots until they are just tender. Allow the fruit to cool just slightly. Serve them warm with the cold tea custard.

More recipes from Bitter

Homemade Bitter Greens Ravioli Recipe
Cardoon Beef Tagine Recipe

Reprinted with permission from Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

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