When thinking of the Bay Area many things come to mind. The Grateful Dead, Metallica, giant stuffed burritos, fortune cookies, whimsical rainbow flags…but what about ice cream sandwiches? For me, one of the greatest pieces of San Francisco history is the invention of the ice cream sando as we know it, thanks to George Whitney and his brilliant IT’S-IT, circa 1928. For those unfamiliar with the creamy concoction, it combines a scoop of ice cream (originally vanilla), in between two oatmeal cookies dunked in chocolate, aka, it’s pure awesome-ness. August 2016 saw the first new IT’S-IT in years with the debut of their seventh flavor – Green Tea. It took me a little while to track one down but I made a visit to their factory in Burlingame and walked away a richer man.
Green tea ice cream falls into one of two camps – awesome and true to the flavor of beautifully steeped tea, or, weird and overly sweet with a strange maple flavor. Fortunately for IT’S-IT and all of us consuming their killer cream sandwiches, this matcha-based goodness falls into the first category and is a pure step back Steph Curry swish off the dribble. It’s velvety smooth and fluffy with lovely natural grassy notes throughout – it really tastes just like a cup of perfectly steeped tea smooched with milk and sugar. Like most IT’S-IT ice cream flavors it’s not very sweet, which leaves room for the cookies and chocolate coating to do their job driving the sweetness.
The cookies are soft and cinnamon-y with that lovely oatmeal texture that compliments the thin layer of dark chocolate perfectly. One of the only problems with IT’S-IT’s is depending on how frozen they are or how long they’ve been sitting the cookies can sometimes get hard – not the case from this factory-fresh one at all. Since most of the sweetness is coming from the cookies their spicy undertones and buttery cookie texture really pop against the subtle flavor of the green tea. For those raisin haters out there that haven’t had an IT’S-IT before, have no fear, ain’t no dried grapes here.
My favorite IT’S-IT flavors are the ones that provide the most contrast – vanilla, strawberry, and mint, and the green tea one falls right into that same category of a base flavor that stands on its own but blends seamlessly with the sandwich elements. It’s a great addition to an already fantastic lineup of bay area classics that should be delicious to tea lovers and doubters alike.