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IKEA's Tea with Rhubarb and Vanilla

Or, Why I'm Going to Forgive IKEA (maybe) for Changing their Marketplace

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Like many, many folks (especially Swedish expatriates living in the United States), I was very, very upset in 2011 to learn that IKEA, the one widespread, reliable source of all great culinary things Scandinavian, was changing their Marketplace to carry only IKEA-branded items. In fact, I'm still bummed (because it was the easiest place I could get to to pick up specialty Swedish cheeses like Vasterbotten and Hushallsost). I still don't know where I'm going to find Daim miniatures. However, upon having tasted one of IKEA's newly branded products - its "Ekologiskt" Tea with Rubarb and Vanilla Flavour ("Te Med Rabarber- Och Vaniljsmak"), I may just have to rethink the boycott I was planning.

Product Description

"Ekologiskt" Te Med Rabarber- Och Vaniljsmak ("Rhubarb and vanilla flavoured tea, organic") is produced in Denmark, then branded and distributed by IKEA FOOD in 3.5 ounce packages. USDA-certified as "organic," it contains whole organic black Keemun tea leaves from China and natural rhubarb and vanilla flavor. At a mere $2.49 a package, it's easily competitive with the pricier tea blends you can find at specialty shops.

How does it Taste?

The vanilla is apparent as soon as you sniff the aroma of the tea as it steeps, and is the dominant element in this tea (as one who adores vanilla in any shape or form, this satisfies me right down to my toes). While I think of vanilla as more of a natural complement to coffee or chocolate, it's amazing just how beautifully it pairs with the fruity, orchid nuances of the black keemun tea.

What's really intriguing, though, is the essence - and it is just a hint - of rhubarb underlying the vanilla. Not at all "sour," it has the sort of tangy sweetness rhubarb acquires after stewing for a while or being baked into a pie. It provides an amazing flavor counterpoint to the tea and the vanilla ... and if it's this interesting in hot tea, I imagine it must be really special when served on ice as a bright thirst-quencher on a hot summer day.

So, Have you REALLY forgiven IKEA yet, Kari?

Sigh. I expect that the next time I enter an IKEA, I'll still be mourning the loss of those bright red bags of Daim and of the multiple varieties of Kalles caviar. I'll certainly be on the look-out to investigate how IKEA's other branded products compare to my much-loved brands of other Swedish companies (and believe me, I'll tell you about my impressions here!).

However - and I'm speaking as a daughter of the South here, not as a Scandinavian food lover - this tea is a winner, ya'll. It's well worth a trip to IKEA.

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