Have you ever had a cup of tea infused with real vanilla?  It is one of my ideas of heaven on earth and I have been on a quest for years after first tasting it.  In 1985, I visited my friend Herta in Cologne, Germany and one afternoon we stopped at a quaint tea shop near the river.  Herta asked for vanilla http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/3937987119/ tea, and the clerk opened a large brass tin.  The delicate and fresh fragrance of vanilla wafted through the air.  Back home, we brewed a pot of the vanilla tea and my first sip was sublime.

However, my search for real vanilla tea in the States has been unsuccessful.  The teas that I bought either had no taste of vanilla or the vanilla left a harsh aftertaste in my mouth.  I was disappointed.  That is, until I made my own vanilla tea!  It is easy to do and I’ll give you the simple steps so you can do it too.

Make Your Own Vanilla Tea

You will need pure vanilla extract and one vanilla bean, one cup of loose black tea, and one clean jar.  The key is to use pure vanilla extract, and not synthetic vanilla flavoring.  You want to use an unflavored black tea such as English Breakfast – I used Yorkshire Gold tea from Taylors of Harrogate.  Measure one cup of black tea and pour it into the jar.  Then add one teaspoon of vanilla extract to the tea.  Score the vanilla bean down the center of the bean lengthwise and then cut the bean into one-half inch pieces. Toss the vanilla bean into the jar.  Tightly close the lid and shake the jar to distribute the bean and tea.

That’s it – it’s that easy.  Every day, give the jar a good shake and after one week, measure 1 teaspoon of tea (minus the bean) per serving into a cup or teapot, add boiling water, and let the tea steep for three to five minutes.  Voila!  Real vanilla tea with just a hint of delicate, pure vanilla flavor.  Then sit back, relax, enjoy, and savor the sublime deliciousness of it all.

Fun Fact: Did you know that a vanilla bean is the seed pod from an orchid that is indigenous to the Americas?