Steepsterites, let me deviate momentarily from Project Ceylon for a moment. I have been waiting for this moment for quite a while. A new shop in the city where I live has opened. They sell tea, coffee, wine, and other various delicacies, and while I would normally be slightly put off by the coffee in particular, I have been waiting impatiently for them to get ready to open the shop, which they finally did this Wednesday. You see, the name of the shop is ‘Fru P’ which means ‘Mrs P’, and you know what? I’m Mrs P too! Clearly this is a sign. Clearly.
Today I got the chance to go in there, where I met the other Mrs P (and Miss P as well). She had a few beginner’s troubles with her till and such, but hey, they’ve only been open for two days. I’m sure they’ll come after it. She seemed very nice and helpful and she smiled when I told her that I was Mrs P too. I also got a cherry flavoured black and another one for Project Ceylon. That one was an inspired bit of a find, actually, because being currently in the process of learning that area, I automatically looked for it on her shelves, even though I thought that she would be more likely to have a Ceylon blend rather than anything single estate, or even single growing region. I thought I’d get some anyway, and then I saw a sticker with a name on the tin and asked if that was where it had come from. She wasn’t sure, but she tried to pull the big mylar bag out of the tin enough that we could see its label, and agreed with me that it probably was. So that’s another one for the Sri Lanka reference map as soon as I look it up and work out where it actually is. (I can’t remember it off the top of my head, but I wrote it down)
Anyway, the first one I’m going to try out of the three I got is this vanilla. You know, Steepsterites, about my ongoing quest for my Perfect Vanilla black tea and how I have been despairing of it even existing at all. I did have it briefly. Chi of Tea had a Vanilla Nilgiri which lived up to all my ideals of the Perfect Vanilla, but they appear to have gone out of business, so when I thought I would stock up on a significant amount of it, my plans were sadly thwarted by there not being any.
So this one. The leaf smells very sweet and it’s got a good deal of that vanilla pod-y quality to it that reminds me very much of a specific sort of licorice sweet that you can get here (and which actually have nothing at all to do with vanilla). There is a certain sharpness to it, though, which makes it feel like it has been very strongly flavoured. This had me initially sceptical, but a strong flavouring isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. It all depends on how well the base tea can keep up in the flavour.
After steeping, the cup smells like a whole sweet shop. It’s vanilla-y, of course, and with notes of caramel, coconut and marcipan. Even a little bit of nougat as well. There is also still that licorice sweet note to it, which is a good sign indeed. Nothing of the sharpness that had me a little wary with the dry leaf, but I can’t pick up much of the base either.
OOOOooooh this is gooooooood!
This tea hits all the right buttons in the flavour. Everything seems to be just so and the only thing about it that currently bothers me is that I don’t know what the base is. Which is funny because with flavoured teas I don’t normally care about what the base is.
At first when I sip, I just get vanilla. A flavour that I seem to be able to taste not only with the tongue, but with my entire mouth in a way. It seems to sort of get in there and then just expand. It’s one of the vanilla-est vanilla teas I’ve ever met where the vanilla doesn’t feel artificial or more along the lines of vanilla sugar.
It even has that vanilla pod-y feel to it. The sort of darker vanilla-y flavour that reminds me of the leathery rubbery texture of the pod.
I’m still not getting much of the base here, but I don’t feel like it’s missing either. The details of the base just aren’t that important here as long as it seems able to hold up to the flavouring without feeling either over-powered or dominating. I think it’s doing so quite well.
This reminds me so strongly of the Chi of Tea vanilla Nilgiri that seems to be forever lost to us, that I’m nearly ready to say that, yes. I have found it at last.
The perfect vanilla has to taste Just So. (Check)
The perfect vanilla has to smell Just So. (Very Nearly Check)
The perfect vanilla has to be easily available without a ton of shipping and/or helpful Steepsterites playing middle-men involved. (Check)
I don’t even have to buy it ONLINE for crying out loud!
I have to taste this through thouroughly before I can say for sure if it really and truly is my Perfect Vanilla, but it’s a very strong candidate. I just need to see how consistently I can brew it with this outcome and whether I can reconcile myself with that bit of sharpness in the aroma. The former being more important than the latter, obviously.
I knew the name of that shop was a sign!