We’re very proud to offer these prize Tahitian vanilla beans to our customers. Tahiti produces only a limited supply of vanilla beans, and we can only get a few pounds at a time. These Tahitian vanilla beans are substantially more expensive, but they are much plumper and have many more seeds per bean. This makes their flavor rich yet delicate, with a fragrant, flowery note. They have such depth and complexity that most high-end pastry chefs prefer this bean over all others for their desserts. Why are vanilla beans and extract so expensive? The vanilla flower is the only one of over 10,000 species of orchids to produce an edible product. The first harvest of the vine does not occur for at least 3 years, giving a maximum harvest after about 8 years. When the flower on the vine blossoms, it must be hand-pollinated during the one or two days in which it blooms. It takes 4-9 months for the vanilla pods to mature and they are picked just as their color changes from green to yellow. Because these beans are so valuable, the beans are branded while still green. Each farmer has his own brand (much like cattle ranchers) formed by inserting pins into a cork and imprinted on the vanilla bean while still young, so it will remain on the bean when it is ready for sale. When the beans are initially picked, they do not have any flavor. The processes for curing the beans vary in different locations: this results in subtle, but noticeable differences in the vanilla bean’s flavor.