The Tahitian Vanilla plant: Vanilla Tahitensis
• Native of Mexico
Vanilla is a member of the Mexican orchidaceae plant family. In 1841, a young slave from the Reunion Islands selectively bred a plant so that it gave birth to the first pods. Vanilla is not a native plant to the Polynesian flora; it was introduced in 1848 for the first time by a French admiral. Adapting to the new environment, caused the imported varieties to develop unique features that marked the birth of a new species – the vanilla tahitensis.
• Une variété unique
Of the three varieties of vanilla from Madagascar, Reunion and Tahiti, the latter has the richest aroma. This is because it does not open when it matures and keeps its original freshness. This means that, when it ripens, it can be collected at the best time for its maximum flavour and aroma.
• A unique aroma
Unlike other varieties, the Tahitian vanilla is characterised by the large amount of anise aroma compounds. Para-hydroxybenzoic acid is present in large amounts. Paradoxically, vanillin is present in much less significant amounts. Anisic aldehyde, and methyl-anisate, two important aroma components, are present. It is the combination of these elements that gives life to the typical bouquet that made the Tahitian vanilla so famous.