84
drank Vanilla Black by Harney & Sons
158 tasting notes

You know, I had a hard time evaluating the vanilla teas from GM, and I’m having a hard time evaluating this one, too. On the one hand, I really do like the creamy warmth of actual vanilla. On the other, I am beginning to think that it’s difficult to represent it at a strength sufficient to contend with black tea whilst also avoiding the risk of an aftertaste that isn’t necessarily flattering.

That aside, I’m enjoying my cup. The aroma of the tea itself is heavenly. Harney’s description of the tea, while enchanting, is completely inaccurate for me — I didn’t ever spend any time in the winter baking sugar cookies with my grandmother, and if they’d known any of the three women I called variations of the name ‘granny’, they would probably kill themselves laughing at the very thought — but if I had, then perhaps it would’ve smelled like this. It’s a nice, musky, low vanilla scent, not the super-sweet vanilla of confectionary. Vanilla is one of those flavors that, when most natural, makes me think of…thick-petaled flowers with sweet, oily scents, sitting in pots half-hidden in shadow in a warm, dark room, in which the only lighting comes from a low-burning fireplace. It’s sweet and shadows, but warm shadows.

It isn’t completely overpowering, either. The aroma is stronger than the flavor, but only by a hair. I’m drinking this plain because I want to see what the tea does in my mouth, because of this aforementioned inclination for vanilla to leave an aftertaste…and, sure enough, it does have one — even high-quality vanilla-bean ice cream does, so that is by no means the fault of the tea — though it certainly wouldn’t prevent me from having another cup.

It’s good enough that I think my next go-around I’ll be sipping it with some sugar to see if that decreases the tang in the aftertaste. I expect that a tiny bit of sweetener will elevate this from being merely a warm-fuzzy cup of comforting tea to a real treat that borders on indulgence.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 45 sec
JacquelineM

My grandmother made all kinds of barely sweet Italian cookies with anise and stuff – I didn’t have a sugar cookie until I was a teenager (at other people’s houses). I never think about/realize what a sheltered/nonAmerican upbringing I had until I hear about what was supposed to have happened – lol. I didn’t even have McDonalds until I was a teenager – and I grew up in a huge city!!

~lauren.

I was in Italy several summers ago (I am assuming Italy by your Italian cookies) and believe me, you didn’t need McDonalds because the FOOD & DRINK were beyond amazing!!! So no sympathy for you (not that you asked for it!), Ms. JacquelineM, I am thinking you had plenty of your own beautiful memories with your granny! : )

JacquelineM

Oh yes, Lauren – who needs McDonalds when you have a grandmother making everything from scratch!!! :) :) :) I was exactly the opposite of deprived :)

I know I was saddened to see McDonalds in Rome. Thankfully there are none in the little towns. I agree – I never had a bad meal in Italy :) Even the most simple meal is wonderful.

~lauren.

Okay – the sound you are hearing from me in your head? JEALOUSY. From Scratch. Pure unadulterated JEALOUSY.

JacquelineM

Lauren – I won’t even tell you about my family that lives in Italy! When we stayed with them we had pasta made from scratch not only for dinner but for lunch! Home made gelato! A vegetable garden right outside their house, and one day my aunt was wringing her hands so upset because lunch was going to be late because the BOAT wasn’t back yet with the fish!!

~lauren.

Okay, this is me not talking to you, JacquelineM (so filled with JEALOUSY am I). Sorry, Sophistre, for hogging your comments with conversational comments with other persons. Enjoyed your post – made me want to try this tea (isn’t that like the ultimate compliment to you? It is to me). (still jealous of some other people on this particular comments board)….! LOL!

JacquelineM

yes, sophistre – I’m sorry for rambling!!

sophistre

Oh, no worries. My mother and my stepfather actually live in Italy eight months out of the year (we aren’t Italian, though)…so…you know, this is all very famiiar to me. ;)

sophistre

Familiar, even. WTB comment editing button. :(

teaplz

Colonille by SerendipiTea is definitely the best vanilla tea I’ve had. It’s subtle as well, but it’s delicious and creamy vanilla, and the tea base has a slight cocoa edge to it. So it’s really, really good. I’d send you some, but I got it from Auggy and it’s sample-sized. :\

S

I have a huge tin of this that I’ve only made once because it was so strong it made me dizzy :( maybe I’ll open it again today and try it out…

sophistre

No worries, teaplz! I actually ordered a sample of that tea after I put up the review of this one, thinking I probably ought to try the one people liked best before I go writing off vanilla as always being prey to that aftertaste thing. So, it’s on the way!

Shanti: Good luck! I personally thought it smelled more strongly than it tasted, but YMMV. Vanilla is a weird one for me, for some reason.

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JacquelineM

My grandmother made all kinds of barely sweet Italian cookies with anise and stuff – I didn’t have a sugar cookie until I was a teenager (at other people’s houses). I never think about/realize what a sheltered/nonAmerican upbringing I had until I hear about what was supposed to have happened – lol. I didn’t even have McDonalds until I was a teenager – and I grew up in a huge city!!

~lauren.

I was in Italy several summers ago (I am assuming Italy by your Italian cookies) and believe me, you didn’t need McDonalds because the FOOD & DRINK were beyond amazing!!! So no sympathy for you (not that you asked for it!), Ms. JacquelineM, I am thinking you had plenty of your own beautiful memories with your granny! : )

JacquelineM

Oh yes, Lauren – who needs McDonalds when you have a grandmother making everything from scratch!!! :) :) :) I was exactly the opposite of deprived :)

I know I was saddened to see McDonalds in Rome. Thankfully there are none in the little towns. I agree – I never had a bad meal in Italy :) Even the most simple meal is wonderful.

~lauren.

Okay – the sound you are hearing from me in your head? JEALOUSY. From Scratch. Pure unadulterated JEALOUSY.

JacquelineM

Lauren – I won’t even tell you about my family that lives in Italy! When we stayed with them we had pasta made from scratch not only for dinner but for lunch! Home made gelato! A vegetable garden right outside their house, and one day my aunt was wringing her hands so upset because lunch was going to be late because the BOAT wasn’t back yet with the fish!!

~lauren.

Okay, this is me not talking to you, JacquelineM (so filled with JEALOUSY am I). Sorry, Sophistre, for hogging your comments with conversational comments with other persons. Enjoyed your post – made me want to try this tea (isn’t that like the ultimate compliment to you? It is to me). (still jealous of some other people on this particular comments board)….! LOL!

JacquelineM

yes, sophistre – I’m sorry for rambling!!

sophistre

Oh, no worries. My mother and my stepfather actually live in Italy eight months out of the year (we aren’t Italian, though)…so…you know, this is all very famiiar to me. ;)

sophistre

Familiar, even. WTB comment editing button. :(

teaplz

Colonille by SerendipiTea is definitely the best vanilla tea I’ve had. It’s subtle as well, but it’s delicious and creamy vanilla, and the tea base has a slight cocoa edge to it. So it’s really, really good. I’d send you some, but I got it from Auggy and it’s sample-sized. :\

S

I have a huge tin of this that I’ve only made once because it was so strong it made me dizzy :( maybe I’ll open it again today and try it out…

sophistre

No worries, teaplz! I actually ordered a sample of that tea after I put up the review of this one, thinking I probably ought to try the one people liked best before I go writing off vanilla as always being prey to that aftertaste thing. So, it’s on the way!

Shanti: Good luck! I personally thought it smelled more strongly than it tasted, but YMMV. Vanilla is a weird one for me, for some reason.

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Ohhh, I dunno. I like tea but I’m kind of a tea newbie. At this point I can say with authority that I may never be anything else, no matter how many teas I try…there is always something new out there.

I write a lot.

I also play way too many video games.


Ratings! (Bout time, wot?) This is a new arrangement, so…subject to change!

1-10: Not potable. First-sip disasters.

11-30: Intensely unpleasant…won’t catch me finishing the cup.

31-50: I really don’t like it…but maybe somebody else out there would.

51-70: Drinkable, but probably not the first thing I’m going to reach for.

71-90: Pretty good tea, and stuff that there’s a good chance I’ll have on-hand. Will do in a pinch at the low end, all the way up to regular visitors to my infuser on the high end.

91-100: Teas I really do not want to be without.

Location

Boston/Cambridge

Website

http://sophistre.tumblr.com/

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