The rooibos version of this is one of my favourite reds, so I had to try the black. It has very little to do with the familiar one in my cupboard, though.
Scent wise, the dry tea has a thick, buttery richness to it that I recognized so well but couldn’t quite place. And then it struck me. Rice porridge. In Sweden we make a difference between rice porridge (runnier) and rice pudding (baked in the oven, more of a cake-like texture) and the former is mainly served as a traditional Christmas dish, warm, with milk, and with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top.
It can be a bit of a hassle to make the actual porridge, as it easily burns (the rice is cooked in milk) – my mom has a sneaky trick, though; she takes it off the heat after it comes to a boil, and then wraps the whole thing in blankets to keep it warm until it’s time for Christmas dessert. It usually rests for five or six hours, which allows the rice to slowly cook and swell. Unwrapped, the porridge has the perfect texture and temperature, and it’s seriously the best trick ever.
And this is exactly what it smells like, on Christmas Eve, when that lid is removed.
I’m pretty sure the rice porridge effect is what’s supposed to pass for marrons glacés, but I haven’t had those since I was very small, so the rice layer is simply much further up in my memory stack.
The tea base is very pleasant, classic Mariage Frères, and I know this is one that would have appealed to me immensely if there hadn’t been such an outlandish scent/flavour parallel. As it is, I don’t really know how to feel about the whole thing. Every other sip is, ‘I like it..’, and every other, ‘…but it’s weird.’
Thanks for adding this and messing with my head, cteresa!
[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]