Vanilla Black

Tea type
Black Tea
Ingredients
Not available
Flavors
Artificial, Powdered sugar, Vanilla
Sold in
Not available
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec 8 oz / 236 ml

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68 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Next to Lapsang Souchongs, this is my youngest daughter's favorite tea. I wanted to make a pot of tea that everyone in the house would like today. I had just made a batch of sugar cookies based on...” Read full tasting note
    ashmanra 1848 tasting notes
  • “I am not proud to admit this, but I grunted when I tasted this tea. Not a mmmmm or an ahhhh but an absolute grunt like a pig. It touched the primal vanilla loving animal in me (who I have just...” Read full tasting note
    JacquelineM 1112 tasting notes
  • “Six hours of sleep last night. Lets just say that it was agony to haul my carcass out of bed this morning. Rewarding myself with this lovely vanilla blend. Day two of waking up totally...” Read full tasting note
    92
    Rosehips 955 tasting notes
  • “ Oh yeah baby, getting down with my h and s samples before busting open the tins. I still don't have a system of attack regarding how I'm going to open them-I don't want to savagely tear into...” Read full tasting note
    keychange 451 tasting notes

From Harney & Sons

The natural sweetness and rich flavor makes this an irresistible delight. The aroma will take you back to winter afternoons in the kitchen baking sugar cookies with your grandmother.

About Harney & Sons View company

Since 1983 Harney & Sons has been the source for fine teas. We travel the globe to find the best teas and accept only the exceptional. We put our years of experience to work to bring you the best Single-Estate teas, and blends beyond compare.

68 Tasting Notes

1848 tasting notes

Next to Lapsang Souchongs, this is my youngest daughter’s favorite tea. I wanted to make a pot of tea that everyone in the house would like today. I had just made a batch of sugar cookies based on the America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated recipe that is supposed to be nearly perfect. (It is.) Hubby got off work early – well, he got off slightly later than he was supposed to, but having just worked one 18 hour day followed by a ten hour day, it felt like “early” and I wanted to have a family tea time to celebrate. Plus, tomorrow is our annual Christmas shopping trip out of town and we are feeling festive!

This was the best choice for an “everyone will drink it” tea. I am not sure, but I think that for the first time, hubby drank a black tea without adding milk or sugar! If so, that is a huge deal. He drinks greens, oolongs, and puerhs without additions, but black tea ALWAYS gets at least some sugar!

Great tea, great cookies, a very nice day!

BoxerMama

I got a sample of this with my harney order, it’s even better than Vanilla Comoro!

ashmanra

I buy it by the pound, I once had to drive 30 minutes to a friend’s house to borrow some to get youngest daughter by until our order could arrive!

Invader Zim

I hope he gets some sleep and time off over the weekend!

Bonnie

Have a wonderful time!!! I love black tea without sugar and a cookie on the side with it.

Miss Starfish

Fresh cookies and Vanilla tea? Be still my beating heart ;)

ashmanra

By the looks of the cookie platter at the end of tea time, you would have thought I invited Cookie Monster. But that IS our nickname for my hubby, after all!

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1112 tasting notes

I am not proud to admit this, but I grunted when I tasted this tea. Not a mmmmm or an ahhhh but an absolute grunt like a pig. It touched the primal vanilla loving animal in me (who I have just discovered is porcine). I guess it could have been worse — at least I didn’t oink!

A subtle and delicious vanilla bean flavor. Slightly rubbery/tarry/dark (that’s a compliment) and the tea base is WONDERFUL. Smooth and flavorful and not the least bit bitter. Extremely elegant. Perfect. I’m drinking it with some sugar and milk, and it’s just lovely. Harney and Sons describes it as baking sugar cookies with your grandmother, but I completely disagree. It’s more like being served shortbread with your grandmother…the Dowager Countess!

…which makes my grunt even more inappropriate! I hope I can learn to control myself around this tea!

In short, I love it.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
BoxerMama

I ordered a sample of it with my last order and drank 4 cups back to back!

CupofTree

This one is definitely on my shopping list thanks to your review, oink!

Sil

Oh man… I need to try this!

ashmanra

Is this your first time having Vanilla Black? This is one I had to buy by the pound because my youngest went through it so fast!

The Purrfect Cup

Might have to try this one!

Bonnie

I like the grunt admission!

Nicole

Vanilla loving porcine. I love it.

Mélissa

Fabulous, absolutely.

Ruby Woo Scarlett

Lovely note, Jackie. ‘It’s more like being served shortbread with your grandmother…the Dowager Countess!’ I miss elegant teas, I haven’t had any in a while and I see what you mean.

JacquelineM

ashmanra – I knew I was going to love it because your daughter loved it so much, but I didn’t know I was going to grunt! I was waiting until I was finished my other vanilla tea before I bought this one. I think I found a new cupboard staple, to put it mildly!

gmathis

Oh, my..I don’t know which I’d enjoy more: tea with Maggie Smith or tea with E.B. White (with Charlotte in the corner busily spinning SOME TEA.)

ashmanra

I am glad you found a new, grunt-worthy tea love! It is delicious! Daughter was in such a panic about running out when she was about twelve that a friend gave us four ounces to tide her over until my order could arrive. Said friend also ordered it by the pound, LOL! And I did pay her back! :)

Angrboda

stares in awe

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92
955 tasting notes

Six hours of sleep last night. Lets just say that it was agony to haul my carcass out of bed this morning.
Rewarding myself with this lovely vanilla blend.
Day two of waking up totally exsausted. Bravo, sleep schedule, bravo.
Hopefully tomorrow I will have plenty of tea, and today I will nurse along with tea!

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451 tasting notes

Oh yeah baby, getting down with my h and s samples before busting open the tins. I still don’t have a system of attack regarding how I’m going to open them-I don’t want to savagely tear into everything simultaneously (despite the temptation) because freshness problems, but then how do you decide what to do and all that stuff? man, problems!!

I’m always on the hunt for a vanilla tea, and vanilla Comoro was a pretty significant let-down for me, because I could barely taste anything. I read reviews for this tea while I was at work today, and got kind of excited when I read a few people say it was like a smoky vanilla, because that sounds like a perfect combination (someone needs to do a vanilla keemun one of these days). Anyway, when I opened the package, my nose was immediately assaulted with the sweet scent of baking vanilla, but also a hearty dose of something chemical and distinctly alcoholic. It was like unscrewing the lid to and inhaling the fumes from a bottle of vanilla vodka (which don’t get me wrong is wonderful, definitely soothes the soul and all that sort of thing, but I don’t want that shiz in my tea). But whatever, I set to work and steeped it-a teaspoon for eight ounces of water, four minutes.

When I lifted the basket out of the mug, I instantly thought “I’ve smelled this before! where have I smelled this?” and then I realized that it smelled similar to many of Frank’s banana blends (butterscotch banana, and banana pudding). definitely not a bad association, but definitely a bit of an unusual one. A few seconds later, however, the intensity of the scent dissipated and I could smell gentle vanilla paired with a fairly noticeable but nondescript black base.

My thoughts as I finished the cup:
1. Hmmm. Not what I was expecting. Too much base, and somehow it doesn’t work well with the chosen vanilla, but I can’t quite say why. No smoke, though.
2. I should put this in my swap pile. I wonder who’ll want it. I’m sure there’s someone.
3. Mmm this is pretty good, actually. I’m going to have another cup tomorrow, perhaps.
4. This would be terrific with a bit less sugar in it, you know.
5. Ugh. There’s something cloying about this one. The vanilla is too…something. Cloying. I should give this away.
6. Great cup! last sips were excellent!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had an experience like this while drinking the same cup of tea. Oh, the internal dialogue. It’s probably not a bad thing though, ultimately. I think it speaks to the fact that we’re determined to give the tea a fair shake, are appropriately self-deprecating when there aren’t fireworks at first steep, and generally want to like a new tea we’re trying because liking things is a good feeling.

So yes, definitely glad I didn’t purchase a tin of this, and as to whether or not I’ll finish the sample pack, it just depends on my mood in a given second. ha.

Also, I received like nine million swap packages in the mail today. Thank you to all of you who sent something. I don’t have access to functional eyes at the moment, but as soon as I do, I’ll set to work labelling samples and thanking those of you who sent them along! but unlike me, you know who you are, so thank you!

__Morgana__

Have you tried Black Orchid (Mariage Freres)? It’s one of my favorite vanilla-flavored black teas.

keychange

I haven’t, actually. I’m going to read reviews and then hunt it down! :)

Kat_Maria

Haha, awesome note :D

keychange

Haha I’m glad you liked it!

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84
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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87
974 tasting notes

This has been in my cupboard for a few weeks, and I am just now getting around to trying it out. Really, ashmanra should get some kind of kickback from Harney…there were a few things in my last order where I just skipped the sample and bought a tin. I think I did that in my web order before this one, too, come to think of it…..

This is really good. It is definitely different than Vanilla Comoro. The vanilla is lighter, but oh the tea base is sooooo smooth….. I do think I might add a little more leaf to the next pot. 24 oz teapot, 3 perfect teaspoons- level (aren’t these really a tsp and a half? I bet that throws all of my previous notes off for readers, because I always use this spoon to measure tea), freshly boiled water, 4 minutes.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Dinosara

I never realized that about the perfect teaspoon… I never check it’s volume when I got it, but I guess that would make sense given the measurements I’ve ended up using to brew most teas (1.5 perfect teaspoons for 12oz water… so actually 2.25 tsp?)

JacquelineM

I’ve never heard of the perfect teaspoon! Where do you get it?

SimplyJenW

It looks that way…..my perfect teaspoon holds as much as my 1/2 TBS. measuring spoon, which calculates out to 1 1/2 tsp (because there are three tsp in a TBS). The scientist in me had to check into it based upon how much water they hold, but I digress……

SimplyJenW

Harney has one….
http://www.harney.com/Perfect-Tea-Scoop/productinfo/72775/
I got mine at a local spice shop last fall.

JacquelineM

I’ll have to order one next time! I have been skimpy with my leaves, and I bet this will help!

Dinosara

Well thanks for the confirmation! That may definitely change the way I measure some teas. I ordered my perfect teaspoon from a random merchant on amazon.com; they seem to be all exactly the same no matter where they come from, but they all say “1 cup of perfect tea” on the handle.

SimplyJenW

I wonder if it was made for those of us who view a cup of tea as an actual cup in volume, rather than the 6 oz. traditional size.

Dinosara

I’ve always been frustrated when tea directions say a certain amount “per cup”… per traditional tea cup (like you said, 6oz), or per volumetric cup (8oz)? Or per some nebulous 6-12oz cup/mug/glass that you might brew tea in? “Cup” is a pretty vague word, but I’ve always treated it like an 8oz cup.

SimplyJenW

I go volumetric, too. And it looks like my spoon has been compensating for me all along…. :)

Indigobloom

same… 8oz works for me so that must be right!

ashmanra

I bought my spoon at A Southern Season and we always use it to measure our tea. The one Harney sells is the same.

LadyLondonderry

This spoon issue is something that never even occurred to me. Jen, your tasting note prompted me to measure my own “perfect cup of tea” spoon (which happens to be half of a two-ended tool with a tablespoon coffee measure at the other end). Turns out it’s just about the same as a measuring teaspoon … whew! However, I usually use a little extra leaf anyway, because I’m seldom drinking from a 6-oz teacup.

ashmanra

I just checked my Perfect Cup spoon and mine is also exactly one regular teaspoon, which would be the right amount of leaves for six ounces. I would really love to have the cup weight scale from Upton because some tea leaves are so large that they don’t measure out properly. I know it is about the weight of an American dime per six ounces, so for my Beehouse pots I weighed several dimes, noted it on my scale, and use the scale to measure for a whole pot when it is really fluffy or long leaves. The Upton scale is more sensitive and face it…way cooler. Plus they had it programmed so that you can put your available leaves on the scale and it will tell you how much tea you can make with them! Want! Want!

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70
1015 tasting notes

Finishing up the last of the small amount I had. I didn’t even have quite enough for a pot so I ended up with about 1 tsp Vanilla Black and 1 tsp Assam. The combo is actually quite nice. The vanilla is nice and strong without being over the top and the strong black tea is holding its own. If I ever end up with more of this, I will probably mix it half and half with a stronger black tea because I think it is much better this way.

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec

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43
379 tasting notes

this was vanilla tea #2 out of 4. must admit i am rather let down with this one but am glad i bought a sample versus a whole tin. with the sample bag sealed i smelled vanilla, but as soon as i snipped it open all i smelled was alcohol.

i had one cup, steeped lightly (alcohol shouldn’t be in my tea unless i put it there which i did not) in order to make sure i wasn’t crying wolf…

i did not like this one and won’t be finishing my sample. our youngest son who has become a ritualized tea drinker alongside me wouldn’t try it because he couldn’t get past the smell.

the paris blend is great, the hot cinnamon spice is an excellent boot to get you moving in the morning, but this one surprised me. it wasn’t as refined as i’ve come to expect from harney and sons.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

Wow! I wonder if something was wrong! I buy this in one pound loose leaf for my youngest daughter. She can’t get enough of it. Same for Vanilla Comoro. Maybe it hadn’t had time to “settle down and meld.”

JustJames

Delete
about a minute ago

i have no idea… but was very surprised and not terribly happy. we’re building a long concrete cobblestone path and i was really looking forwardc to it (while i waited for advil to take effect).

JustJames

apparently steepster is glitching my posts again…

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75
477 tasting notes

When I ordered this, the idea was that I probably wouldn’t like Vanilla Comoro much because it’s decaf and I thought that was weird. Of course, that wasn’t the case. I fell in love, face-first, with Vanilla Comoro. So the roles have reversed. This tea now has to live up to what I thought would be the loser.

It smells lovely as it steeps, brewing up to a pleasant reddish amber. The aroma is sweet vanilla and faintly smoky, leathery black tea. I’m a little surprised by the smokiness, as I wasn’t expecting it. This doesn’t have the buttercream, cupcakey vanilla that the Comoro had, which disappoints me a little. Oh dear, I’ve gotten spoiled.

The flavor is much more smoky than I expected, followed by the vanilla. It’s decent, yeah, but not what I was hoping for. I wanted a sort of cake or ice cream flavor, and this isn’t it. It’s a nice vanilla bean taste, but it’s too subtle for me. Sorry, Vanilla Black, but I’ll be reordering Vanilla Comoro instead. (And mixing it with French Super-Blue Lavender, oh god yes.)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec
ashmanra

Vanilla Comoro does have a sweeter, caramel dessert flavor while Vanilla Black is more straight vanilla, though I like both!

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80
314 tasting notes

Pretty good vanilla flavor. Kind of toasty. But not as good as their decaf one-Vanilla Comoro. The aroma is similar, between the two. Although for pure, rich, caramelized flavor alone, Vanilla Comoro wins hands down.

But for a “real” (non-decaf) tea, I’d go for this any day. The black tea base is prominent and has a definite kick. The vanilla flavor is more in the background and serves as a delicious accent—it’s very smooth, creamy and authentic and seems to have a slight floral edge.

Pretty good, overall. I’m happy with it. :)

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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