Review: Samovar Vanilla Dian Hong

Black Tea, Samovar, Vanilla Tea, Yunnan Tea Add comments
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I tried a second, five minute infusion. The copper color was a little lighter. The vanilla scent was more subtle but still dominated the tea. The flavor was very smooth, milder, but even sweeter than the first cup, almost sugary, as if someone had added a little bit of marshmallow. The tea was a warm underpinning presence. If I'd been served these two cups without knowing they were from the same pot, I could have believed they were the first infusions of two different teas. "
Lynn’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8/10, Dan gave it 7.8/10, Geoff gave it 7/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »
samovarvanillasomethingSan Francisco's famous Samovar Tea Room sells a wide variety of loose leaf teas, many of them from 1000 year old trees. Their Vanilla Dian Hong offering doesn't claim quite such an august pedigree, but is made with organic fair trade Yunnan (Dian Hong) black tea, organic vanilla beans, and natural vanilla flavor, blended in the US.

My sample was composed of medium length, dark chocolate brown leaves and visible sections of vanilla bean up to a quarter inch in length. That made me very happy. I love natural vanilla and loathe the artificial article. I bought some excellent beans in Tahiti a few years ago and it took me forever to use them, just because I loved to open the packet and smell them. With anticipation high, I opened the sample bag and brought it up to my nose. A strong vanilla fragrance wafted out. Not just vanilla: VANILLA! It was very fresh and clean. Even so, this was balanced by the spice, cocoa, and leather scent of the Dian Hong. I didn’t pick up any of the claimed malt, but that was probably folded in with the vanilla notes. Sometimes scented teas overwhelm the base tea, but wasn't the case here.

Samovar's brewing directions for black tea were to steep one tablespoon in 16 oz of boiling water for three to five minutes. Since I was only making tea for myself, I halved the recipe, and infused it for four minutes. This produced a dark coppery cup deliciously redolent of vanilla and little else. The taste was more balanced between the tea and the flavoring. The tea came through smoothly with notes of leather, cedar wood, spice, and malt, laced with the mellow tones of the vanilla and some natural sweetness. Perhaps it was the vanilla flavoring, but there was a vanilla liqueur note, as well. The dry, long-lasting finish was full of tannins, cedar, and vanilla. I loved the complexity of flavors, and the way the fragrance filled my nostrils with every sip.

If you prefer your black teas with milk or cream, I can recommend that, too. I tried it with a little half and half and it was excellent. Samovar also suggests sugar, and making it as a latte, which I suspect would be very good.

I tried a second, five minute infusion. The copper color was a little lighter. The vanilla scent was more subtle but still dominated the tea. The flavor was very smooth, milder, but even sweeter than the first cup, almost sugary, as if someone had added a little bit of marshmallow. The tea was a warm underpinning presence. If I'd been served these two cups without knowing they were from the same pot, I could have believed they were the first infusions of two different teas.

If you love vanilla teas, you don't want to miss out on this reasonably priced, well-balanced, high quality tea. Those of you who have had bad experiences with vanilla tea in the past, order a sample and give this one a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

— To purchase Samovar Vanilla Dian Hong, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Lynn Lynn
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