Sicilian Vanilla Black Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

sicilianvanillaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy

Tea Description:

Do vanilla beans grow in Italy? We like to think so. Regardless, this black tea is blended with fine English oils made from Italian citrus fruits and sweet extracts, mixed with grade-A Madagascar vanilla beans (plus fine vanilla extract for an extra boost), and the unique savory scent of helichrysum flowers. Sicilian Vanilla is a great blend for the citrus lover, the vanilla lover, or the black tea lover! This blend is part of the Original 20 M&K’s Blends.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Hmm … tasty!  Not at all what I expected, but then, I think when I saw “Vanilla” in the name of the tea, I immediately think, “OK, this is a vanilla tea.”  I didn’t expect the other flavors in this, although had I read the description prior to tasting, I would have!

This tastes more like something rich and dessert-y, like a fancy dessert from a European bakery than it does a straightforward vanilla black tea.  And that’s not a bad thing, not at all!  It’s a very yummy thing!

The description of this tea on Etsy doesn’t go into detail about what teas are used as the base.  It only says a “blend of black teas.”  Based on what I’m tasting, I’m going to guess that there is some Assam in this blend.  I taste a good bit of malty and I also taste a hint of Assam bitterness.  As for other teas, I suspect a Ceylon because I’m getting a Ceylon sort of taste in there too … but I’m less certain of the Ceylon than I am of the Assam.

To flavor this tea, M&K’s used vanilla bean as well as vanilla flavoring, Fiori di Sicilia flavoring and Pannetone flavoring.  Fiori di Sicilia is an extract that is used in Italian baking that has a bit of vanilla, orange and floral essence.  I can taste each of these flavors.  The vanilla is the strongest note of these flavors, with the yummy baked bread taste of the pannetone, and hints of citrus that are especially noticeable at the finish and in the aftertaste.

The floral notes are probably my least favorite aspect of this tea, because it gives the cup an almost ‘artificial’ taste.  However, the floral taste from the Fiori di Sicilia is barely noticeable and something that is easy to overlook given the yumminess of the rest of the tea.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this blend and I’m glad I got to try it.

Not So Vanilla Flavored Black Tea from Tippy’s Tea

NotSoVanillaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tippy’s Tea

Tea Description:

Decadent dark chocolate and vanilla. Extremely smooth, malty and chocolatey. Hand chopped Madagascar vanilla beans add a sweet and creamy vanilla flavour.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmmmmmm!  This is really good.  REALLY really good.

I’ve tried more than one or two different vanilla flavored black teas, and I’ve enjoyed most that I’ve enjoyed.  I can’t think of any vanilla flavored tea that I didn’t at least like.  Maybe not love, but I think that I liked most of them.

This one – though – this is one of those that stands out as an EXCELLENT vanilla flavored black tea.  What makes this one so different?

Well, I think it has a lot to do with the tea base.  It’s a Golden Monkey.  The combination of the natural chocolate-y notes of the Golden Monkey along with the sweet, creamy notes of the Madagascar vanilla bean works very well together.

The Golden Monkey is rich and slightly creamy tasting.  The aforementioned chocolate notes are bittersweet and this is a really pleasing contrast to the vanilla notes from the vanilla bean.

Another thing that makes this one different is that this doesn’t appear to be a flavored tea.  That is to say, it’s not been flavored with flavoring oils.  It’s been infused with the flavors naturally using vanilla beans rather than oils.  And this gives it a light, natural vanilla flavor rather than a synthetic one.  It’s kind of like the difference between a vanilla bean ice cream and a vanilla ice cream.  They taste similar, but there is a distinct difference that can be tasted.

That said, because this hasn’t been flavored with oils, the vanilla here is somewhat more subdued than you’d find in a vanilla tea that’s been flavored with oils.  If you’re looking for a really STRONG vanilla flavor, then you might want to try a different tea.  If you’re looking for a really GOOD vanilla flavor – you’ve found your tea!

Bourbon Vanilla Tea from Kusmi Tea

VanillaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Kusmi Tea

Tea Description:

Those who have a sweet tooth will enjoy this Chinese black tea flavored with Bourbon Vanilla from Madagascar.

We suggest to enjoy this tea during the afternoon. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Bourbon Vanilla Tea from Kusmi Tea is a tasty vanilla flavored black tea – very smooth and sweet and satisfying!

I like that it’s a Chinese black tea used for the base, because it makes for a very solid, rich tasting background of flavor.  It is smooth, not overly astringent, and not at all bitter.  It has a robust, malty tone to it that melds quite nicely with the sweet, creamy vanilla flavor.

The flavoring is not overly strong here, and while some have commented that this tea is not vanilla enough, I would disagree with that.  I like the level of vanilla flavor here – it’s not overwhelming, it’s not hitting me over the head – but then again, this is vanilla and I think it should be a softer, more subtle flavor and should take a more sophisticated approach.  It shouldn’t be too strong.  It should allow the flavors of the tea to be explored, not coat the palate with a heavily creamy taste.

It is silky and creamy, but, it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the Chinese black tea.  I like this, it would make a great afternoon tea (as suggested in the description above), or it would make a nice dessert alternative.

Madagascar Coconut White Tea Blend from Simple Loose Leaf

MadagascarCoconutWhiteTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

Our Madagascar Coconut white tea is like a coconut cream pie in a cup! A vibrant combination of Madagascar vanilla and coconut enrich a toasty white tea for a fruity, buttery and sweet finish. Enjoy either hot or iced for a light, sweet delight.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s customized subscription program here.

Taster’s Review:

My subscription package from Simple Loose Leaf arrived the other day and I’m LOVING this Madagascar Coconut White Tea Blend that I received!  What a deliciously creamy tea!  It tastes decadent, but it feels light and refreshing.

The white tea base is a Shou Mei white tea.  I like this choice, because it isn’t as delicate as a Bai Mu Dan.   The Shou Mei is a stronger tasting tea and this allows for a more flavorful experience.  I can taste the earthy, hay-like notes of the white tea, along with a light, buttery sort of taste.  It is crisp and exhilarating to sip.

The vanilla cream notes are smooth and rich and taste very dreamy!  Like a dessert but without being a overly sweet treat.  The coconut and vanilla are nicely balanced with the vanilla notes maybe just barely edging out over the coconut, but not by much.  I taste just a tad more vanilla than coconut.  But the two together are quite wonderful, like a sweet coconut custard.

You might remember my blog post about last month’s tea from Simple Loose Leaf.  Well, they got in touch with me not long after the post published, and they wanted to make my dissatisfaction with that tea right!  I was very impressed with not just their willingness to work with me to make things right, but their wanting to go above and beyond what they needed to do to fix things.  

I love it when I find a company that is dedicated to excellent customer service – even when I will be the first to admit that the fault was not really with Simple Loose Leaf … it was my fault for not having read the description before I placed the order!  I saw Cocoa Cream and thought CHOCOLATE without reading the “coffee” in the description.  That’s my fault, not theirs.  But they still wanted to make things right, and I love that.

They wrote me a nice email, and in it, they offered to replace the tea that I didn’t care for with a tea of similar price and weight ~or~ a handful of free samples.  I, of course, opted for the samples since I’m a taster.  This month, along with this month’s selection, I also received three free samples.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts on those teas with you when I try them!  Until then, I’m so happy that I included this Madagascar Coconut White in my subscription order, because it’s fantastic!