The combination of tea and lemon is a classic mix of tastes, a refreshing pair of flavours that tastes as good cold (as in iced tea or Southern sweet tea) as it does hot. I was thinking of this combo when I found myself standing before the gelato counter at Caffe Bene, dithering over whether I was going to get coffee, tea, or something more indulgent for a post-lunch treat. Among the tubs freezing in the display case were blueberry, yogurt, chocolate, espresso, green tea, and lemon. One look was all it took and a doppio featuring a scoop of green tea topped with a scoop of lemon was soon in my hands.
The lemon gelato was like a cross between a granita made with sweetened lemon juice and a gelato (that said, I daresay it would be best described as a sorbetto al limone) in the sense that you get a bright lemony flavour with a pleasant tang in a soft ice that is more milky than creamy. It was like eating a light, frozen scoop of proper lemon curd – so much so, in fact, that I wanted to buy a pint of the stuff to serve in puff pastry shells; it’d be like a summery version of a tarte au citron. But, I digress…
The green tea gelato (gelato di tè verde) was just as dreamy: a deep green ice cream heady with Korean matcha (Caffe Bene is, despite its molto Italiano name, a Korean franchise) with its herby, nutty aroma. It was perfectly bittersweet: the tannic bitterness of the tea was balanced by sweet cream. The melty parts were lush and creamy, while the more solid parts had a bit of a chew to them that was most pleasant.
Eaten individually, these ice creams were delicious. Eaten together, on the other hand, and they were sublime. The sweet-tart lemon was an excellent counterpoint to the bittersweet green tea. It was also a play on textures with the lighter, milkier lemon balancing the creamy lushness of the green tea below. It’s like a classic cup of afternoon tea, only in a more indulgent form.
Caffe Bene: Ground Floor – SM BF, Sucat Road, Paranaque City (with branches in other parts of the NCR)