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Haagen-Dazs' star flavor Green Tea turns 20

Haagen-Dazs Green Tea has constantly been in the top three popular flavors in Japan since its debut 20 years ago.

TOKYO -- In the late 1980s, when members of Haagen-Dazs Japan suggested coming up with their very own flavor, based on matcha, the traditional Japanese tea used in tea ceremony, the response from New York headquarters was a definitive "no." Haagen-Dazs was an American ice cream, and the thought of a bitter green tea flavor lining up next to the brand's signature ice creams was not alluring to the top brass.

So the Japan team invited members from headquarters to the ancient capital of Kyoto, to sit in a traditional tea ceremony and understand the history and culture behind the dark green tea. After seven years of convincing and persuading, tasting and critiquing, Haagen-Dazs Japan released its first local flavor in 1996. It was an immediate hit, selling twice as much as the undisputed favorite, Vanilla.

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