AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – UMass Amherst and Herrell’s Ice Cream & Bakery held its annual ice cream flavor competition, showcasing the extraordinary talents of food science students.

The four ice cream flavors developed by these students were so exceptional that Judy Herrell, the owner of the Northampton-based ice cream shop, has decided to produce and sell all of them.

Judy Herrell, along with her manager Kirsten Tabb, served as mentors and judges for the competition, marking the fourth consecutive year of their involvement. According to Herrell, this year’s competition presented the toughest challenge yet, as all the flavors were outstanding. After careful deliberation, Herrell and Tabb declared Tea House Blossom the champion flavor. This unique creation combines oolong tea and peach flavors with a touch of rosemary extract.

The second-place flavor, Maize Craze, entices with vegan corn bread chunks and a hot honey swirl featuring a blend of jalapeño, poblano, and habanero peppers. Tied for third place were Hidden Royal-Tea, a delightful blend of Earl Grey tea, frozen peaches, peach preserves, and lavender water, and Berry Tequila Tango, a spiked sensation featuring raspberries, frozen cranberries, lime, salt, and high-end tequila.

The presentation of the ice cream flavors took place in a packed classroom at the Integrative Learning Center, with over 100 students, faculty, staff, and guests eager to sample the creations crafted by the four student teams. The attendees had the opportunity to vote for their favorite flavor, and Maize Craze emerged as the fan favorite.

Tea House Blossom, the winning flavor, was created by a team of food science majors consisting of Jingyi Cheng from Hohhot, Inner Mongolia; Zachary Kwalick, who grew up in New Jersey and California; Luke Ma from San Mateo, Calif.; and Jiaying Sun from Shanghai.

Judy Herrell explained that Tea House Blossom stood out because it provided a multi-sensory experience. When you take a scoop and inhale the aroma, you can feel the tea’s floral essence, creating a truly exceptional flavor sensation.

Maize Craze and Hidden Royal-Tea were both praised for their ability to tantalize the taste buds. According to Herrell, these flavors offered a delightful combination of tastes that pleased every part of the palate.

The team behind Maize Craze included Astrid D’Andrea from Hazlet, N.J.; Jacqueline Frederick from Malta, N.Y.; Erica MacGrory from Oxford, Mass.; and Amelia Navarre from Villach, Austria.

The Hidden Royal-Tea team consisted of Nathanael Krulewitch from Boston; Garett LaDuke from Ludlow, Mass.; Kristine Lee from Westboro, Mass.; and Lily Saad from Andover, Mass.

Berry Tequila Tango, dubbed “The Ice Cream of the Summer!” by its creators, is predicted to become a top seller in the ice cream shop due to its vibrant colors and careful marketing. Herrell believes it will capture the hearts of ice cream enthusiasts in the long run.

The creators of Berry Tequila Tango are Tevin Early from Springfield, Mass.; Taha Gacimi from Casablanca, Morocco; Paul Maguire from Cranston, R.I.; and Michael Polidor from Sandwich, Mass.

The product development course was taught by UMass Amherst alumna Peiyi Shen, a Ph.D. graduate of the food science program. Shen described all the flavors as “unique and very creative.”

Creating an ice cream flavor, especially one with swirls and add-ins, involves a highly scientific process that requires knowledge of the microbiology and chemistry of food ingredients and processing

“They were able to put different ideas into practice as they brainstormed,” Shen said of her students. “They shaped and improved their formulations into something commercial.”