By Analiese Paik
Mario Leite is a self-proclaimed tea lover and ice cream fanatic. He’s so passionate about the duo that he recently launched a company dedicated to crafting premium tea-infused ice creams featuring natural, organic and local ingredients. Tearrific Ice Cream is off to a terrific start with a line of 7 tea-infused ice creams available in select restaurants, and soon to be released in pints at a retailer near you.
Fairfield Green Food Guide enjoyed a tasting and one-on-one with Mario Leite to give you the scoop on his artisan, tea-based ice creams.
London Mist, made with Earl Grey tea (organic Assam black tea and natural bergamot oil) and a hint of Madagascar vanilla, delivers an Earl Grey flavor “without beating you over the head with it” said Leite. “Earl Grey is one of my favorite flavors. As you get older and develop a more refined palate, you look for clean flavors, not overly fatty or sweet.” The malty flavor comes off the palate clean and refreshing, perhaps thanks to the citrus notes of bergamot. “I wanted it to taste like you’re drinking the tea. When you’re done, the flavor in your mouth is Earl Grey” said Leite.
Chunky London Mist is London Mist with semi-sweet Callebaut chocolate flakes and roasted chunks of pecans, a decadent ice cream fit for those looking to go all out on dessert. Yet, this is no flavor bomb. Think restrained elegance with a delicate balance of flavors and textures.
The sophisticated, palate-cleansing Ginger Matcha, aka ‘The Converter’, delivers full on ginger flavor because it’s made with fresh ginger juice. “I call this one ‘The Converter’ because many people who don’t like ginger or green tea ice cream seem to love this flavor” said Leite. The gorgeous green color is derived from Matcha green tea. How the tea is actually infused into the ice cream is a trade secret I couldn’t get out of Mario Leite. Is the Matcha powder infused in the cream, then heated to prepare the custard base? We might never know.
If you’re a fan of Thai iced tea, you’ll love Tearrific’s Thai Iced Tea ice cream. Made from an authentic Thai tea (strongly brewed black tea), flavored with vanilla, and colored with annatto and beet juice to produce a gorgeous mango color, this is a veritable frozen facsimile of the restaurant drink (minus the artificial food coloring). Leite explained that the maple notes I picked up come from combining the tea and vanilla. It’s not hard to see why this ice cream is showing up on dessert menus in Asian restaurants.
Tearrific’s Masala Chai ice cream is created from a spicy Chai blend of teas balanced with white and black pepper, cardamon, clove and ginger, and other spices. This ice cream is a close cousin to the Thai Iced Tea ice cream in that it’s the frozen version of a popular Asian tea-based drink. Don’t underestimate how luxurious these are though. At 14% butterfat they’re rich and creamy, just as an excellent ice cream should be.
Chamomile Honey Swirl, a pale yellow confection made from brewed Egyptian chamomile tea swirled with Red Bee’s Alfalfa honey, was my favorite. For me, this is a complete paradigm shift in ice cream. The beautiful marriage of flavors ended with a honey tang on my tongue. This is sophisticated, grown-up ice cream. Tearrific just released Chamomile ice cream, which invites a drizzle of your favorite honey much as a bowl of vanilla ice cream invites a healthy dose of chocolate syrup.
Tearrific Ice Cream is based in Norwalk and their ice cream is made at Buck’s Ice Cream in Milford. Leite makes it a point to source the purest ingredients from as close to home as possible. Teas, some of which are organic, all of which are natural and dye-free, are sourced from premium tea vendors in the area including Arogya Tea in Westport, Simpson & Vail in Brookfield, MEM Tea Imports in Watertown, MA and Spices & Tease in Manhattan. Sweeteners include alfalfa honey from Red Bee Honey in Weston and organic evaporated cane juice sugar, which Leite says “is the least processed form of granulated sugar and retains much of its nutrients.” The non-fat dry milk and cream are free of added hormones (no synthetic hormones).
Connecticut restaurants serving Tearrific Ice Cream:
- Bambou Asian Tapas & Bar – Greenwich
- Thai Basil Restaurant – Greenwich
- The Drawing Room Boutique & Cafe – Cos Cob
- Bombay Club – Westport
- Siam Valee – Wallingford
- Thai Pan Asian Restaurant – New Haven
- Max Downtown – Hartford
- Hot Basil Thai Cafe – West Hartford
- The Blue Elephant Trail – West Hartford
- Tea with Tracy – Seymour
- Mrs. Bridges’ Pantry – South Woodstock
Now you can enjoy Tearrific’s restaurant quality ice cream at home. Retail pints go on sale the second week of October in the following flavors: Ginger Matcha, London Mist, Chunky London Mist, and Masala Chai. Below is a list of retailers in Fairfield County that will be carrying their products starting in October. Tearrific ice cream will also be available in stores in New Haven and Hartford Counties plus Westchester and Rockland Counties in NY and Long Island City.
- Ancona’s Market, Ridgefield
- Collyer Catering & Market, Westport
- Fountain of Youth Whole Foods, Westport
- Nature’s Temptation, Ridgefield
- New Fairfield Food Center, New Fairfield
- Ridgefield Organics & Specialty Market, Ridgefield
- Spic & Span Market, Southport
- The Pantry, Fairfield
- Palmer’s Market, Darien
Enjoy a sample of Tearrific’s ice cream this Saturday, September 29, from 11-2pm at Ridgefield Organics & Specialty Market, which will be carrying the ice cream starting October 12. Save the Date: Tearrific will be exhibiting and providing tastings at the Artisanal Tasting on Saturday, November 3, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Trinity Church in Southport. We will be posting complete details about this event soon.
Congratulations to Tearrific for being voted Best New Product in the Edibles category for the 2012 World Tea Expo East. The company will be exhibiting at the Expo next Tuesday and Wednesday in Philadelphia. I’ll certainly be encouraging them to enter the CT Specialty Food Awards competition next year.
Follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/Tearrificicecream
Follow them on Twitter www.twitter.com/Trrificicecream
Visit them online at http://www.tearrificicecream.com/ (under construction)
Contact: Mario Leite, President and Founder, at email@example.com