Ah Vanilla, that classic aromatic flavouring, we all know and love. The word vanilla comes from the spanish word "vainilla" which is the diminutive of the Spanish word "vaina" which means "sheath" or "pod" but is often directly translated as "little pod".
Vanilla is derived from a species of orchid in the Vanilla genus. Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people cultivated the vine of the vanilla orchid for quite some time. Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes, is often credited with introducing vanilla, among others such as chocolate, to Europe.
Initial cultivation of vanilla outside of Mexico proved to be quite difficult as it required the Melipona bee, a native bee species and the vine's natural pollinator, for successful production of vanilla. Hand pollination was later discovered by a slave, named Edmond Albius, who lived on the French island of Réunion, in the Indian ocean. This became the method which allowed for global cultivation of the vine.
The fruit of the vine is what is used to obtain the vanilla flavouring, also known as "vanilla beans".
The majority of the world's vanilla comes from a species commonly called "Bourbon Vanilla" (after the former name of Réunion, "Île Bourbon") or "Madagascar Vanilla" which is produced in Madagascar and neighbouring islands. But Vanilla is also grown and produced in Mexico, French Polynesia, Central and South Africa and the Caribbean.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice, after saffron, because the cultivation and production of vanilla is so labour-intensive. Vanilla extract is commonly made by putting vanilla beans in a 70 proof alcohol and leaving undisturbed for some time until most of the vanillin (the compound which gives vanilla it's flavour) is extracted from the pods.
Vanilla has been thought to have "magical properties", it has been reported to calm nerves, lift the spirit as well as improve the romantic side of one's life. Vanilla, historically and to this day, is highly prized due to it's intensely fragrant and aromatic flavour.
We've created two delightful teas with this mysterious and highly sought-after spice in mind.
Our Bourbon St. Vanilla Rooibos tea takes it's cues from New Orleans; specifically Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Where the scent of vanilla is sure to entice you down the street past voodoo shrines and bustling cafes. We've blended this tea with naturally caffeine free Rooibos, from South Africa, for a strong nod to the African heritage that is often seen in New Orleans, aromatic vanilla that is ever so present on Bourbon Street and a few almonds for some mellow nutty notes.
And our Creamy Vanilla flavoured black tea is a delightful blend of high grown tea with 'Ceylon' character, jasmine petals, calendula petals, sunflower petals and of course, vanilla. Sweet, creamy and smooth tasting, this tea is perfect when it comes time for dessert, or for any time of day!