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Like all fruits, vanilla begins with a flower: A single flower that opens up on only one day every year, and if you fail to pollinate it, that’s it. No vanilla bean.
In 1841, it was discovered that is was possible to manually pollinate the orchid using a sliver of wood or a needle. And that’s how it’s still done today: painstakingly, flower by flower. After this delicate operation, the vanilla farmer must patiently wait for the pod to ripen and darken before it can be harvested. From there, the pod is washed, sorted, cured, and aged for at least a month, each stage of which risks failure. It could easily be a year after its initial harvest before a ready-to-use vanilla pod ends up in your kitchen.
Vanilla beans can only be grown in specific locations around the world. Tribal Vanilla gets its vanilla beans from the Ibanda district of Uganda. These beans have been tested by an independent laboratory in France and have been proven to rank highest in quality, vanillin content and moisture. Our network of small-scale farmers in Uganda take pride in their quality, not their quantity!