I love ice cream. My favorite ice cream is Haagen-Dazs Green Tea.

You may have tried green tea ice cream at a Japanese restaurant and found it a curiosity but not something you’d want to keep in your freezer. Haagen-Dazs takes green tea ice cream it to a completely different level. It is luxuriously creamy with the perfect balance of sweetness and the bite of green tea. The only problem is that they don’t sell it in North America.

A few weeks ago I was browsing the ice cream case at my local Albertson’s and I spotted it: Haagen-Dazs Green Tea! I was elated—I swear I started to become emotional. But wait—emblazoned on the rim of the lid were the words, “Limited Edition.” I had to buy every carton in the freezer, 11 total. I abandoned the rest of my shopping to get home as quickly as possible; I could not wait another minute to taste my beloved ice cream.

As soon as I opened the lid and pulled back the protective plastic I knew something was wrong. The color was not as it should be; the Japanese version was a rich green color, like the color of tea leaves. This was a light green color, like the color of supermarket brand mint chocolate chip. One taste confirmed my fears: this was not the same ice cream sold in Japan. The taste was sweeter, the green tea flavor much less pronounced. It had been dumbed down for the American audience. I had been betrayed by Haagen-Dazs.

I thought about returning the plethora of pints, but after I ate a little more it grew on me. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. When it came down to it, it was still better than any of the other green tea ice creams you can buy in the USA. I decided to keep it. When they restocked the shelves at Albertson’s however, I didn’t buy any more.

Although I can’t enjoy my favorite ice cream in the USA, unique tastes are one of the nice things about travel. There are so many foods that you can get in Japan that you either can’t get in the USA or when you can they just don’t taste the same. I’ve never found rice crackers or takoyaki that tastes like it does in Japan. The same with green tea ice cream; you can buy it here, it’s just not the same and probably never will be.

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