Black Orchid

Tea type
Black Tea
Caramel, Vanilla
Malt, Toffee, Vanilla, Caramel
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Edit tea info Last updated by with-grace
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 g 10 oz / 298 ml

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38 Tasting Notes View all

  • “In my last post I mentioned Reasons. Well, having just suffered a disappointing setback to do with Reasons, I’m comforting myself with the last of this leaf and reminding myself that there are...” Read full tasting note
  • “I have a cold and I am not able to smell the dry leaf unfortunately. But my taste remains intact and this vanilla tea is really different from the ones I have had until now. The mellowness of this...” Read full tasting note
  • “Next to the last serving of one of my all-time favorite teas from my all-time favorite tea house. It’s vanilla with an overlay of malt and at least one other flavor I have a hard time fully ID’ing...” Read full tasting note
  • “I am not going to rate this yet, because I am not quite sure what i think of it. My second time having it and not only my feelings changed from the first experiment, but my feelings are changing as...” Read full tasting note

From Mariage Frères

New blend from autumn 2007.
Smooth black tea, round and silky, dotted with notes of vanilla and spice.

Time to enjoy: Afternoon
Origin: Other Countries
Main flavour: Vanilla

Amount of tea leaves: 2.5g
Best water temperature: 95 °C
Infusion time: 3-5 min

About Mariage Frères View company

Company description not available.

38 Tasting Notes

1328 tasting notes

In my last post I mentioned Reasons. Well, having just suffered a disappointing setback to do with Reasons, I’m comforting myself with the last of this leaf and reminding myself that there are other fish in the sea and the battle may be lost but the war is not over and it’s not over until the fat lady sings and to get back in the saddle and whichever other cliches you can think of. But BOOOO! at the world in general. shakes fist

It’s the last of the leaf, and I’ve suddenly realised something. There’s a berry-y note in here and it’s pretty strong. How did I not notice this before. Or maybe more cherry than berry really (lookit me rhyme!). If I had never had this before now, I would have thought it was fruit flavoured along with the vanilla. I don’t really understand how it isn’t.

Everybody who has some of this tea, go and make a cup now and see if you think I’m right or just crazy.

(Should I point out that Reasons are a good thing, or is that obvious?)


good luck with reasons!

and I have enough of this, and been thinking of it, I will have a cup and look for that berry note…


I should retire my nose maybe – you are totally right about the berry. But at the same time I think it is smelling different than from what I remembered when i bought it – has my storage (but it´s Ok, I think, a tin which seals very tight) changed it? or just ageing? Some MF teas (like Marco Polo for example) are IMO very susceptible to ageing, even if they do not see to have a lot of whole ingredients.

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408 tasting notes

I have a cold and I am not able to smell the dry leaf unfortunately.
But my taste remains intact and this vanilla tea is really different from the ones I have had until now.

The mellowness of this tea is incredible, it’s so smooth, delicious feeling.
The Vanilla is not a sweet vanilla, it’s a lovely sharp Vanilla to me but it may come from my steeping time (4,5 min) and the tea base used by MF.
I think there is some assam probably here because I get a hint of astringency at the very end of the sip and it may be different with a shorter steep – I’ll retry next time with 2,5 or 3 min.
Anyway this astringency is a pleasant one so I can rate this high quality tea.

Thank you so much cteresa for this sample, this is lovely.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

sounds lovely!


I use to have this in my cupboard. Loved it!


I’m hoping your cold goes away quickly and does’t transform into something worst like last time…
Ditto with Sil, the tea sounds lovely. I do like a little astringency in my morning black tea.


from pneumonia into a cold! you need to change the theme, madame!


ouch, poor you.


ahaha this is nothing regarding what I had, I even just didn’t pay attention to it until I wanted to sniff Black Orchid…

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237 tasting notes

Next to the last serving of one of my all-time favorite teas from my all-time favorite tea house. It’s vanilla with an overlay of malt and at least one other flavor I have a hard time fully ID’ing – could be brandy or whisky, or even pipe tobacco. Something sweet but sharp, heady and aromatic, and truly irresistible. Excellent with cream and sugar.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

That sounds amazing.

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

Agreed this sounds great!

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359 tasting notes

I am not going to rate this yet, because I am not quite sure what i think of it. My second time having it and not only my feelings changed from the first experiment, but my feelings are changing as I drink the cup.

First, the scent – this has an extraordinary scent, a rich, sultry vanilla scent, totally different from cloying one-note artificial vanilla scents and a scent which reminds you that why yes, vanilla is a flower, an orchid (ok, yellow orchid which then creates a black pod, and yes, it´s the seed pod, but still vanilla is floral). Sultry vanilla caramel, that is it. This went on my wishlist the moment I smelled it. Right now I was in the mood for a vanilla tea, and I went on a walk which accidentally took me past the tea shop and well, it came home…

Expectations are funny things which get in the way of appreciating what we get instead. This tea is not truthful to the scent. It´s much more sedate, much less exuberant, maybe classier than its scent. No caramel after all. So I was underwhelmed at first, since it was so very different from what I expected from its scent. But if what I was expecting this as a lightly naturally flavored vanilla tea then well this is indeed lovely. It´s got an incredibly smooth base (thank you Mariage Frères, for not using the same base for *everything) which I think has some, but not a lot, of Assam on it. And a lovely aftertaste. I am getting to like this more each time I have it, I will make another taste note after I have it a few more times.

Angrboda, not sure this will be your vanilla tea indeed, but if you ever want to try it, let me know!

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 45 sec

I’ve actually got that one on my list (along with a great many other things) for whenever I get around to making an MF order. Probably soon, I think. I’m feeling inspired to try shopping somewhere I’ve never shopped before. I can’t remember ever having had something with orchid before, but I’m not certain. I would not be opposed to a swap.


This is a very interesting vanilla tea, though not sure if it will be what you want. It´s a natural, background like sort of vanilla. And the orchid is just vanilla, vanilla is the orchid of this title – LOL the orchid pod, but I think they do not add blossoms or anything. Black orchid = vanilla.

In Turkey they use a flavoring made from orchids called salep, though I think they use the roots (like iris roots) and it is has this light floral (even if it is from the roots!) flavour, it´s lovely! Salep would make for a very interesting flavoured tea.

I would love a small swap!


Oh, of course! I forgot vanilla is an orchid plant. That makes sense. :)

I’m afraid I don’t have an awful lot to choose from, but have a look if there’s anything you would like. Otherwise, I’ll just make something up. :)


Sent you a message, was writing it! You know, your pick sounds great, surprise me – scented, natural, it is all tempting!

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314 tasting notes

Soft vanilla flavor. Slight notes of cherry cough syrup (!!). Malty black tea taste. Not getting much spice. Maybe a bit of cinnamon? I think my water is not hot enough.

I don’t know why I’m detecting cherry cough syrup in vanilla teas nowadays. Luckily, it’s not that strong in this one. But I’m surprised to find it in a Mariage Freres.

The best vanilla flavor in a tea has to be H&S’s Vanilla Comoro. For me, it’s unsurpassed (even if it is decaf).

190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 30 sec

Ditto on the best vanilla flavor suggestion! :)


One that might be better than Vanilla Comoro is Chi of Tea’s Vanilla Bean Cream Nilgiri Black Tea. That stuff is good too. Same kind of flavor profile but maybe a little stronger and a slightly better tea. I’ll stick with the Vanilla Comoro because 90% of the time I want tea without caffeine.


Thanks Kristin! Stronger and slightly better, you say?? It has jumped onto my wishlist!

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1853 tasting notes

I missed my workout today and desperately need to go do it, but it’s been a long week and I’m not exactly perky at the moment. So I’m going to start a little adventure called a tale of three vanillas in the hopes that by the end I’ll be energized enough to work out.

This is the first in the saga, to be followed by a rerun of The Jade Teapot’s Starry Night and my sample of the Samovar Vanilla Dian Hong.

Gee, this tea smells terrific! No, really, it is a tantalizing smell coming out of the tin, a sultry vanilla smell. It’s incredible, you can actually smell the beany grain of the vanilla which gives it a slight resemblence to the smell of coffee. It’s like being inside a vanilla bean, or rather, swimming in a vat of vanilla beans like toddlers do in those ball pit things. There’s a dark roasty smell as well, which is certainly the tea, which is dark brown and luscious. You can see pieces of vanilla bean among the leaves.

The aroma during steeping is equally delicious. I think vanilla may be a hard flavoring to get exactly right and it seems as though its success is highly dependent on the quality of the vanilla used to flavor as well as the thing being flavored. My experience with the Numi Vanilla Decaf was pretty bad, and though I thought it unlikely this experience would be similar I was relieved to be right. The vanilla aroma rises gently and organically out of the cup, along with a malty, sugary tea smell that is quite enticing.

The liquor is lighter in color than I’d expected from the darkness of the leaves, a sort of burnt orangish brown.

Yum. It tastes smoother and more delicate than I expected. It’s not a shot over the bow so much as a gentle rumble. The vanilla is sweet and delicious, and it melds with the tea’s own sweetness to create something that, astonishingly, is just the right amount of sweet. The flavors lean on each other nicely. A wonderful cup.

I’m not sure exactly what the right steeping time for this one will turn out to be. It was fine at 3 minutes but a bit better at 4. I might try 5 next time, just for laughs.

And as a postscript — the empty cup smells nommy!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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1001 tasting notes

I got this tea in a bulk section of a shop in Berkeley almost a year ago, so I’m not sure how it compares to fresh and better stored samples of this tea. For some reason my brain is telling me I smell chocolate in both the dry and steeped tea. I can smell the rich vanilla, but why chocolate? Maybe the base is the same as a chocolate tea I have had so it is by association that I smell it? When I sip, it is smooth and vanilla like at first, but quickly turns to a burnt caramel taste… almost coffee with a tiny bit of bitter. I read Ysaurella’s notes about wanting to try steeping it at a lower time, so I only did 3 minutes at under boiling water. Considering that, I’m surprised there is any bitterness. Adding sugar knocks out the hint of bitter coffee and brings out a rich vanilla in the aftertaste. On the sip I taste the tea base, which is a nice one, but I don’t get vanilla until after I swallow. As it cools it gets sweeter and I taste the vanilla a little sooner. It is a very nice cup, but it is a little plain for my taste. I might try it cold brewed in the fridge before I totally give up on it tho. I have had some boring teas surprise me when cold brewed.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

where did you find MF teas in bulk?


At The Pasta Shop in Berkeley. They have two locations, but only the one right off the freeway and next to Teance has them in bulk. They have a larger selection of MF in tins too and a few other brands of tea!


Good to know, thanks!

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3 tasting notes

I have always loved Mariage Freres teas, until this one. It is deeply disappointing. The aroma is close to cheap caramel. I do get some vanilla notes in the flavor.

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 45 sec

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1020 tasting notes

Divine vanilla malt. Divine. Possibly the slightest bit of toffee too.

I made this to accompany me on a particularly difficult day out in the world. Success! I survived!

Clearly, I need this in my life on a regular basis. I can see why this is your absolute favourite vanilla black.

Thank you for the sample, Sil. If there is a group order list, please count me in.

Flavors: Malt, Toffee, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

This one’s been on my wish list for ages and now I want it even more! Wish Mariage Freres weren’t so darn expensive, because their teas are absolutely divine!

Evol Ving Ness

I have just been on their site checking just what kind of debt I’d be incurring if I were to place an order. Won’t be happening this month. And probably not next either. In the meantime, I will continue with my favourite Vanilla Black, which I think is pretty darn good: Vanilla Black by Capital Tea Ltd. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do.


I was JUST browsing MF’s site dreaming about an order the other day haha. This definitely looks amazing and worth the price tag.


I’ve had one of those days myself. It seems to be going around :/


Glad you enjoyed it. :) MF teas aren’t that expensive when you do a price comparison against other teas….or at least they weren’t when I was there. It’s really just the shipping that kills it. Or at least that was what always stopped me.

Evol Ving Ness

Yeah, shipping. But seriously, if I were to do the crazy thing and place an order despite the shipping and possibly duty add-ons, this would likely be the tea that took me over the edge.

And girlfriend, what are you doing up at 6 am and browsing steepster? :)


@evol – i’m up at 5:30am most days haha i always scan here somewhere between waking up and getting to work

Evol Ving Ness

I’m up around 5, thanks to neighbours’ infant. I am hoping though that this will one day end. And you, that’s some dedication to tea. I must admit that tea is a fine motivator for getting out of bed in the first place.

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313 tasting notes

Ok, so I was totally sold as soon as I saw the name of this one – Black Orchid is a SPECTACULARLY AWFUL two-part Doctor Who serial starring Petey Davison and his gaggle of ducklings. It has a special place in my heart. Plus, I’d just come from interviewing some contemporary Doctor Who luminaries at the BBC and happened to be passing the vicinity of Selfridges, so I thought it would be criminal not to pop in. How serendipitous, or something.

And the tea is gorgeous, too. Similar to Vanilla Shortbread from Whittard, but a touch more caramelised, I think. I’d expected a slightly darker brew than the burnt orange I got in the cup, but it certainly delivered on flavour, and the base plays beautifully with the rich vanilla-ness of it. Nom. This was a good idea.


I love this tea!


love this one.


This one has been on my list for a long time.


i have some i can send if you haven’t tried it my swedish chef

Sami Kelsh

Oh yes, it’s fit!

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