Infusin_Susan sent this one to me in our recent swap. These days I tend to be drawn to almost anything flavoured or partially flavoured with vanilla. I blame JacquelineM for this. She was the one who started singing the praises of the Vanilla Comoro from Harney & Sons and others quickly followed. I had tried one or two vanilla blacks before that and hadn’t been super impressed by it, so what, I wondered, was I missing?
This led me to explore the flavour. There was a relatively good one from Whittard of Chelsea, which took a little time for me to really get into and an awesome one from Chi of Tea, sadly now having been out of stock for rather a long time. The Chi of Tea one was the last straw for me. It pushed me completely over the edge because it was flavoured just right!
Since then, I’ve been drawn to all things vanilla black. If I see one while I’m making a purchase I’m likely to try it out at least once. The AC Perch’s was acceptable. The vanilla assam from 52 teas that I discovered in the Christmas box? I’ve bought two pouches and I’m hoarding them. The add-a-vanilla-pod-in-pieces-to-a-random-tin-and-leave-for-three-weeks method that JacquelineM uses? Yeah, I’m giving that a go with my otherwise fairly boring Kenya at the moment. (The pod was pretty old, though, so it might not work too well)
So when Infusin_Susan put this one up as one she would like to trade for something else, I acted. Obviously.
When one wants to find one’s perfect whatever it is, one generally has to put some thought into exactly what it is one seeks in that particular tea, and with vanilla, I keep thinking I have this worked out, but in truth I’m jumping back and forth like a frog on a warm rock. If I’m having something disappointing which has a subtle flavour, I will say that I want the flavour to be stronger. If I’m having something disappointing with a strong flavour, the opposite will apply. If I’m having something great but not quite there which has a subtle flavour, I’ll say I prefer the flavour to be subtle. And of course vice versa. I keep thinking I know what I want, but in reality I appear to be lying through my teeth. I think, though, that I’m mostly in favour of relatively strongly flavoured, but primarily showing up on the swallow and in the aftertaste. I want to still be able to tell that it’s tea and I don’t want something super-sweet.
As this is not supposed to be a post about vanilla tea in general, does this particular one live up to this wish?
The aroma is strong, yet controlled, just like I want it to be, but the flavour is rather lacking. It shows up in all the right places, but there just isn’t enough of it. It doesn’t give me that rich and creamy flavour at all, it doesn’t make the whole inside of my mouth taste like vanilla and the only aftertaste that really lingers is that of the base tea.
What is the base tea of this stuff? Ceylon, it would seem. Well, that explains the aftertaste. Ceylons have, for me, generally a very long aftertaste and as I really wanted that to be primarily the added flavour here, it just doesn’t work out for me as a vanilla base. Something with a shorter flavour, primarily on the first part of the sip so that the vanilla can run the show from the middle-ish and onwards. Ceylon just doesn’t swing that way for me.
As it is with caramel, it’s difficult to find the perfectly flavoured vanilla black, but even the really boring, disappointing ones are likely to be finished off fairly quickly in this house. With caramel, luckily, I’ve found it, but with vanilla I’m still searching. I’ve come close, but limited supply keeps getting in my way. However, I am enjoying the search.