I got this in the great big box that Dax Pamela Dean sent to me a while back and since so very many of you, including JacquelineM who is well known to a bit of an expert on vanilla teas, count it among your favourites. So I’ve been looking forward to trying it, even though I have to say I’m a bit wary of this whole decaf business. I’ve had a couple of decaf teas in my life before but never (that I can recall) in any sort of succesful way.
It’s standing next to me, wafting vanilla aroma all over the place. It’s a sugary sweet sort of vanilla aroma to me, not the rubbery leathery roughness of the pod. The aroma, on closer inspection (nose to cup), strikes me as strangely alien. I can tell it’s vanilla, yes, but I’m not sure I’d say I could tell it was tea. I would of course be able to identify it as tea through a qualified guess, but it’s not something that really says, “I’m tea, I smell like this!” It’s like something is missing, and I’m suspecting it’s something to do with the decaffeination process.
Flavour-wise, I have to say I’m surprised that it’s so popular. It’s definitely not my ideal vanilla tea, but that said, it’s not unpleasant either. Let’s start at the bottom with what I can make out of the base. It would help a lot of if I could figure out what the base actually is, because all I’m really getting out of it is a fairly wooden flavour. I can’t for the life of me spot this ‘rich malty character’ business that H&S mentions in the description. Just… wood.
The vanilla flavouring is good though. It’s strong, yet subtle all at the same time. Probably because the vanilla itself has a funny dark flavour (identifies as black or very dark brown in my synesthesia), which sort of expands and fills the mouth.
I’m lacking the pod flavour though. That syrup-like, leathery feeling to it is completely missing, and the absence of it makes the flavouring feel a little synthetic. The presence of detectable vanilla pod gives a vanilla tea an impression of authenticity and without it, we may as well be looking at synthetic aroma.
So in a way I’m both relieved and disappointed. I do like the tea, but I’m disappointed that I can’t find it in myself to love it as much as most of the rest of you. For the same reason I’m also relieved, since it’s not a tea that is available to me unless I get someone to buy it for me and forward it, which would be a very impractical way to shop.
So if I can’t have the Vanilla Nilgiri from Chi of Tea anymore, which I had otherwise named my Perfect Vanilla Tea, then I’ll just have to keep on looking.