I love vanilla and am picky about teas that include it. I have fairly high expectations going into this one since Samovar seems to be angling more at the high end of the tea market. The dry leaf is very dark and has noticeable snips of vanilla bean mixed in, which is a good sign, but the aroma is not as deeply soaked in the spirit of vanilla as others I’ve tried, most notably Mariage Freres.
After four minutes I have a dark brown liquor with a pleasant level of vanilla scent. I almost always put cream and sugar in vanilla tea, but I’ll taste this first without to see what comes across. The tea base is quite strong, with quite a bit of astringency but lots of vanilla too. There are malty and spicy notes in there, pepper and nutmeg. With cream and sugar, the vanilla really blooms. It all works really well together to create a hot vanilla malt-like experience which is very tasty. High marks!