I have been looking forward to trying this sample given the love that this tea has on Steepster, and what with a good decaf being hard to find and all. I had had such a bad experience with the only other decaf vanilla black tea I’ve had, the Numi, that I was a little afraid despite my eagerness.

The leaves in the sample packet are lighter colored than I would have expected, and initially they give off a very very intense, creamy, vanilla smell. Once you get under the cream, though, the vanilla is pretty rich, with a hint of beany-ness. The 6 year old was persuaded to give them a sniff and went “MMMMM-MM!”

The tea doesn’t have a very strong aroma. I don’t get a lot of vanilla after steeping. Perhaps this is because I didn’t hear the Breville beep, so the tea had started to cool a bit by the time I got to it. There is a sort of disappointing wet blotter paper, or maybe cardboard, smell to the tea, which is generally what I smell and taste in most decafs.

But fortunately I’m not getting much of that in the taste at all. This is a smooth, mild vanilla tea, with no false steps. The vanilla is integrated nicely into the tea, and provides a sweet, creamy, flavor.

I can’t say that this would be a stand out for me compared to some of the really wonderful non-decaf vanilla black teas I have had. There’s still less to it, like it has been de-somethinged, but by comparison to other decafs it is so much more somethinged.

I’m rating this compared to other decafs, not to other teas generally. On a decaf scale, it’s definitely up there with the Harney Midsummer Peach. I’m going to say it’s slightly better just because it is such a success as a decaf black vanilla compared to the Numi.

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I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.


Bay Area, California



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