Sweet Science Ice Cream's good chemistry

Artisan ice cream maker finds a home and inspiration at Verdant Tea Room

"That one started out as a hibiscus frozen yogurt, actually," says Olds. "I worked on it a lot with my assistant, Mary Howard, who has a degree in food science, and we did a lot of tinkering with it. We got the cinnamon in there, and I liked the woodiness and how it played with the rhubarb but didn't overpower it."

This fall, some of Sweet Science's greatest hits will return to the lineup, including the caramel-apple cider crisp made with organic Honeycrisp apple cider, and one of Olds's personal favorites, the custard-laced pecan pie made with a rich cognac-vanilla base. In the meantime, she's already got her eye toward warmer weather, working on a peach cobbler flavor as well as a summer camping standby.

"We want to do a s'mores ice cream," she says. "But one that stays true to our style, so that means hand-torching our own homemade marshmallows, using gluten-free graham crackers, the whole nine."

David Duckler and Ashlee Olds prove that tea and ice cream do mix
Benjamin Grimes for City Pages
David Duckler and Ashlee Olds prove that tea and ice cream do mix

For a budding local business, the temptation to prize volume over quality is always present. But Olds and Duckler aren't interested.

"My goal has always been to make a really thoughtful product," says Olds. "I don't take any shortcuts, even if there is room for them."

Duckler's motivation comes from what he says is a combination of accountability and positivity. "It definitely takes a leap and you have to be a little stupid to look at the number and think it's still going to work. But I promised these family farmers I would share their tea, and their stories, and traditions, and at the same time I'm meeting a need in my hometown. If you are willing to put in the time, people will take care of you."

Both Olds and Duckler, and their respective products, are shining examples of what happens when craft meets passion and process is held in the highest regard. These reverently ground and brewed teas and superb, small-batch ice creams are worth seeking out.

Check out all the photos of Sweet Science Ice Cream and Verdant Tea...

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