Welcome to summer! Which means, time for some light, refreshing summer dessert ideas… And the best way to do that is with tea of course! Today’s recipe is for two types of coconut granita that tastes so much like ice cream it’s hard to believe it’s dairy-free. They are also colorful, thanks to the bright red hibiscus and color-changing sapphire of the Butterfly Pea Tea.
- Ice cream vs granitas: what's the difference?!
- How to make Coconut Butterfly Pea Tea & Hibiscus Granitas
- Possible Variations & Tweaks to make other tea-flavored cold desserts
The hibiscus granita is tart and tangy, like creamy pink lemonade ice cream. The butterfly pea tea granita reminds me of the blue cotton candy from childhood, so I guess...blue raspberry?! The rich coconut throughout gives a tropical flare, and both options make a great dessert for summer.
Let’s get started!
What’s the difference between ice cream vs granitas?
Ok, so this is definitely the most challenging part of making our boba, but, lucky for those of you that may not be the most cooking savvy, it’s also optional to your preferences. Boba pearls can be bought pre-made and you can probably find them at your local asian market as we might say in the USA, or if you can’t buy them locally they can definitely be purchased online.
Ice cream is made by mixing milk and cream together, then slowly freezing while churning (to prevent ice crystals forming). American ice cream is made with only milk and cream, while French ice cream is actually a frozen custard, with cooked milk + cream combined with egg yolks. Making homemade ice cream can be easy if you have an ice cream maker, but if you don’t it’s a headache! Avoiding the dreaded ice crystals during freezing is labor intensive and challenging.
Granitas on the other hand depend on the ice crystals, as that’s part of the fun of eating them. ‘Granita’ means ‘granite’ in Italian, because the finished dessert (sort of) looks like crumbled rock. It tastes a lot better though… Granitas are made by combining a simple syrup with whatever flavor you’re using, then freezing in a shallow dish for a few hours before serving. Easy peasy!
Spoiler alert: when you make a granita with coconut cream, suddenly it has the beautifully creamy consistency of ice cream, but without the headache of churning. Yes, you can have your ice cream and eat it too!
So let’s jump right in with making our coconut-and-tea-flavored granitas, here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 x 400ml cans of full fat coconut milk (the creamier the better)
- 1 cup white sugar (you can use any sugar you like, but white sugar lets the teas’ colors shine through)
- 1 cup of water
- 15 Blue Sapphire Butterfly Pea Tea flowers by MatchaAlternatives
- ¼ oz dried Tart & Tangy Hibiscus Petals by MatchaAlternatives
- 1 lemon (for zest and juice)
- Kosher salt (that's rock salt to Brits and others)
You’ll also need two of all your cookware, as you’re making two different granitas and, because the Butterfly Pea Tea changes color when it touches something acidic/sour (like hibiscus), you’ll want to keep all your utensils separate. Or risk having purple granitas instead of blue!
For some coconut alternatives read our huge comparison of dairy milk alternatives here + how they affect the antioxidant healthy-ness of your tea!
How to make
Step 1: Make Your Teas
Steep your Butterfly Pea Tea and your Hibiscus Petals to take two tisanes. Use ½ cup boiling water per tea. Steep for at least 10 minutes - the longer you steep, the more intense the color will be. You can also use more tea if you want a richer color.
Step 2: Make Your Simple Syrup
Add your two brewed teas to two pans and add ½ cup white sugar to each pan. Place the pan on the stove over low heat and stir the mixture until the sugar is fully dissolved. Allow the mixture to come to a low boil, and then immediately turn off the heat.
Step 3: Prep Your Coconut Cream
While your teas are steeping and your sugar syrups are cooking, decant your two cans of coconut milk into two bowls. Add a pinch of salt to each. Break up the cream with a whisk or spatula.
Optional: You can also add lemon zest and/or 1 tsp lemon juice to whichever coconut cream will have the Hibiscus added to it. I chose to only add this at the end, once I knew exactly what it tasted like, but it can be done here too for ease.
Step 4: Combine and Mix
Add your two simple syrups to your two bowls of coconut cream. Whisk them thoroughly, being sure to use two separate whisks. If you use the hibiscus whisk for the butterfly tea, you risk changing the color as the pH changes!
Note: You do not have to add all the simple syrup, and in fact may find it is too sweet if you do. I started with ¼ cup and then increased up to nearly ½ a cup before it reached the desired color and flavor. This happily left a small amount of simple syrup, which I used to garnish the finished granita, and also to drizzle over the mixture before freezing.
Step 5: Prep for Freezing
Pour each bowl into a shallow, freezer-proof dish. I chose to decorate my granita mixture with the steeped flowers of my two teas, as well as grating over fresh lemon zest on the hibiscus granita. I also drizzled some of my leftover simple syrups too.
While decorating is optional, it’s quite satisfying and pretty!
Step 6: Freeze! Forking Optional
Pop your two dishes into the freezer. You now have two choices:
- Set the timer for three hours and go do something else
- Come back every 40-50 minutes and fork your granita. That may sound rude, but all it means is scrape and mix your half-frozen mixture with a fork, resulting in a slightly rock-dust appearance.
There is a definite debate in the world of granita recipes, with some people saying forking is essential for a superior result, and others saying it’s a waste of effort and they can’t tell the difference.
I decided to fork my butterfly pea tea and not fork my hibiscus, in the name of science. End result? Exactly the same, to my eye and palate. Meaning, I recommend Option 1!
Step 7: Fork Your Granita
Now that three hours have passed, take out one of your granitas and scrape the dish with a fork until your entire mixture is loose and looks like sand or small pebbles.
Pop the dish back into the freezer while the fork the other granita, as it’s really important it stays frozen until the moment of truth.
Step 8: Garnish & Serve!
You can serve this summery dessert anyway you like, but have some fun garnishing it: I added lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice to both to brighten up the flavor and balance the sweetness, as well as some more of the brewed petals and a drizzle of the simple syrup.
Now is when you can play with the color-changing nature of butterfly pea tea, too: add lemon juice to your blue simple syrup and it will become purple or pink! Pouring that over your blue coconut ice cream is a feast for the senses.
Now quick, eat it before it melts!
Possible Variations & Tweaks to this Dairy Free Dessert
Because it is such a simple process, and there’s not a huge amount of chemistry to worry about, you can really go wild with your tea granitas:
A Basic Tea Granita
Follow the same process as above, but increase the water so the ratio 1 part sugar to 1.2 parts water for the simple syrup, e.g. ½ cup sugar to ⅔ cups water, and don’t use any coconut. Brew your tea before hand for maximum strength, and you can also cook it in the simple syrup as well if you like.
As for what tea to use, it’s up to you! You can make this granita with green tea, rooibos, honeybush, white tea...you name it. Personally, I’m planning to try it with licorice root, mint and lavender next time...
Play with the pH for Color-Changing Magic
Do the Basic Tea Granita above, and use Butterfly Pea Tea. Make a second granita using lemon or lime juice and peel. Don’t use any coconut milk. Keep them separate until serving, then combine for some color-changing beauty, as the blue granita changes to purple and pink!
Add Pieces of Fruit
You could also try finely dicing some summery fruits, like peaches, apricots or strawberries, and adding them to the mixture for some added texture and flavor. You can also go full tropical, with passion fruit and mango pieces.
Or, pulse your fruit in a blender until smooth, and use this to replace the coconut cream.
Boost the Color
If you want a strong red and blue, instead of a rose pink and robin’s egg blue, you can steep the tea in the coconut milk itself. However, DO NOT LET IT SIMMER OR BOIL, as you’ll separate the oils from the coconut milk and need to start again. I chose not to do this, for simplicity’s sake!
Another option is to use a food-safe food dye, but where’s the fun in that!?
Use Your Hibiscus Simple Syrup for a Mocktail
This syrup tastes very similar to grenadine, so works amazingly well for making cocktails or mocktails. Add a splash of soda or your favorite libation, and bam, you’ve got yourself a summer tea delight.
So, as you can see, the possibilities are endless!
Blue Butterfly Pea Tea Simple Syrup, with lemon juice on the right. In martini glasses ready for a cocktail or mocktail!
A Note from Elizabeth
It’s a pretty tough life having to experiment with how to make tea desserts, but someone has to do it. This granita recipe is my new best friend, an easy no-bake summer dessert that is dairy free, vegan, gluten free and most of all, refreshing! It tastes exactly like coconut ice cream, but without the hassle, and looks SO DARN PRETTY too.
And I hope that this recipe inspires you to do some homemade ice cream making of your own. If you come up with any cool recipes using our teas make sure to message us or tag us in SM posts on Instagram @MatchaAlternatives or Facebook /MatchaAlternatives
All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.