Having just finished cups of Black Orchid by Mariage Freres and Starry Night by the Jade Teapot, I’ve turned to this one as the third in my tale of three vanillas.
The dry leaves look quite a bit like the Black Orchid. The color is similar and you can see vanilla beans in this one, too. I’d venture to say that the leaves of Black Orchid are slightly longer, which is probably owing to a difference in the variety of black tea used.
And that’s where the similarities end. I get the same chocolate note from the dry leaves of the Dian Hong that someone else mentioned instead of the amazing vanilla that came out of the Black Orchid. This, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a different thing. The aroma of the tea also has a chocolatey note — in any case, it is not overwhelmingly vanilla, though I can smell some vanilla in it. Mostly what it has going for it is that aromatic Samovar black smell that is common to all of the black teas of theirs I’ve tried. It’s a brown sugary, malty, smooth, delicious foundation for all the other flavors to frolic on and among.
The two notes here, chocolate and vanilla, are like two for the price of one. If you’re looking for a vanilla flavored tea, you’d probably be more satisfied with the Black Orchid, which is classically vanilla flavored. But if you’re looking for something with vanilla flavor and something more, give this a try.
I’m not sure which I prefer to tell you the truth. Both this and the Mariage Freres Black Orchid are exemplary blends. Black Orchid is a Rembrandt, this is a Jackson Pollack. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. I’m calling it a tie.