Translated by Ken
A Taste Of Japanese Culture: The Story Of Häagen-Dazs GREEN TEA
Written by MATCHA-PR
Häagen-Dazs is an ice cream brand loved by people all around the world. GREEN TEA was their first Japan-exclusive flavor. Why was matcha chosen as the flavor for this ice cream? The story reveals the connection of this product to the Japanese tea ceremony, as well as Häagen-Dazs' pursuit of quality.
GREEN TEA: An Exclusive Flavor First Released in Japan
Häagen-Dazs is an ice cream brand loved worldwide. The matcha-inspired GREEN TEA flavor was the company's first ice cream specifically made for the Japanese market.
When Häagen-Dazs originally released the flavor in 1996, the company was taking a considerable risk. Unlike today, green tea desserts were not as widespread—even in countries like Japan.
Seven years of research and development went into creating an ice cream that captured the nuanced flavors of powdered green tea and appealed to a broad range of consumers. The result was a final product that allows everyone to fully enjoy the fragrant yet subtle flavor of matcha green tea.
The GREEN TEA flavor was an instant hit, becoming the best-selling mini cup ice cream released by Häagen-Dazs. Following the success in Japan, the flavor was released in Singapore, and later across various markets around the world.
That being said, Japan is still the only country where you can enjoy the authentic Japanese matcha flavor in their GREEN TEA ice cream. After reading about Häagen-Dazs Japan's commitment to this flavor, you'll surely want to try some for yourself.
A "Häagen-Dazs Moment" Unique to Japan
Left: Hiroki Komatsu, the former GREEN TEA head marketer. Right: Tetsuya Kitamura from Takanashi Milk Products Co., Ltd., who helped developing the GREEN TEA flavor.
We interviewed Hiroki Komatsu and Tetsuya Kitamura for the story behind the successful development of the GREEN TEA ice cream.
――Why did you choose matcha as the Japan-exclusive flavor?
Mr. Komatsu: We wanted to create a flavor that was elegant and represented Japanese culture. To us, matcha green tea was the perfect fit.
――So you chose matcha green tea because of its connection to Japanese culture and tradition.
Mr. Komatsu: Yes. Matcha embodies the Japanese tradition of tea ceremonies, whose essence lies in simplicity and tranquility. It's also seen as a symbol of elegance among the Japanese.
Photo by Pixta
Mr. Kitamura: The feeling of awe you experience when tasting real matcha at a tea ceremony doesn't just come from its flavor. When you walk into the tea room, you are first greeted by a hanging scroll and the flowers. You are then served seasonal wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets), and it is only at the end that you get to drink a bowl of tea. Matcha green tea gives such a powerful impression because the host has paid attention to every detail in serving you. We wanted to recreate this whole experience in our ice cream.
Mr. Komatsu: For example, we asked Häagen-Dazs fans to help us test our flavors and tell us if they experienced a "Häagen-Dazs moment."
A "Häagen-Dazs moment" should be a feeling of joy when tasting our ice cream. We wanted to go beyond creating a delicious flavor. Our goal was to help people experience something special.
An Uncompromising Dedication to Quality
――What was the most challenging part in trying to achieve the GREEN TEA flavor?
Picture courtesy of Häagen-Dazs Japan, Incorporated.
Mr. Komatsu: We refused to make compromises regarding our ingredients. For our GREEN TEA flavor, we use tencha, which is made of high-quality tea leaves carefully grown with proper covering. The covering enriches the flavor of the leaves by protecting them from sunlight. The tencha is finely ground using a stone mill.
Mr. Kitamura: Matcha green tea loses flavor when it comes into contact with light. This setback made it impossible for us to package the ice cream in our standard cups. To solve the problem, we designed an entirely new cup that kept light out. Some people might wonder why we would go to such lengths, but it is our commitment at Häagen-Dazs to capture the essence of our ice cream flavors. For the sake of an excellent flavor, we couldn't compromise on anything.
――It is incredible how much effort has gone into creating the GREEN TEA flavor.
Mr. Kitamura: We felt a lot of pressure while developing this product, but we are thrilled to see that our flavor is loved by so many people. My son once told me while eating a Häagen-Dazs ice cream, "You made this, right, dad? I brag about it to my friends all the time." His words were proof to me that our GREEN TEA flavor is also treasured by the next generation.
Mr. Komatsu: Because we think of matcha green tea as something very special, luxurious even, it may be considered difficult to savor the flavor in daily life. This is why we hope our GREEN TEA ice cream will allow many people to experience a taste of Japanese culture and tradition.
Häagen-Dazs's Matcha Flavor Series Exclusive to Japan
Häagen-Dazs's matcha flavor is a staple in Japan. In 2019, two new limited-edition desserts have been released on the market.
Green Tea Crème Brulée Crispy Sandwich
This dessert allows you to savor matcha-flavored custard ice cream complemented by rich caramel. Sandwiched between crispy matcha wafers, this sweet treat is perfect for people who find matcha slightly bitter tasting.
The 35th Anniversary Flavor: Midori Koicha (Thick Tea)
This is a limited-edition exclusive flavor commemorating the 35th anniversary of Häagen-Dazs Japan. Inspired by koicha (thick, dark green tea) served at formal tea ceremonies, the Midori Koicha ice cream has a rich flavor that brings out the sweetness, the slight bitterness, and the distinctive deep aroma of matcha green tea.
GREEN TEA: Experience Japanese Culture through an Exclusive Flavor
The GREEN TEA ice cream was inspired by Japanese tea ceremony culture and created with Häagen-Dazs's commitment to perfection.
The flavor has now become a staple in Japan and is available at most convenience stores and supermarkets.
Häagen-Dazs ice cream is ideal when you want to have a special moment in daily life. The next time you head to the store, consider trying this Japan-exclusive GREEN TEA flavor.
Written by Shiori Yamakoshi
Sponsored by Häagen-Dazs Japan, Incorporated.