Types of Vanilla
Although there are over a 100 varieties of Vanilla, there are two major varieties used commercially:
Bourbon vanilla is the generic name for vanilla species planifolia. Originating in Mexico planifolia vanilla cuttings were taken in the 1800s and grown by the French in large plantations at Ile de Bourbon thus explaining the origins of it's name. Bourbon vanilla has the familiar vanilla flavour we have come to know and love, such as that in ice cream, flavoured desserts and drinks. Common examples include vanilla grown in Madagascar, India, Reunion, Uganda etc.
Tahitian vanilla is the generic name for the vanilla species tahitensis. This variety is the name for vanilla from French Polynesia. This variety is descended from Vanilla planifolia that was introduced to Tahiti before mutating into a distinct species. Tahitian vanilla is earthly and fruity, with less natural vanillin than planifolia.
Indian Vanilla Vs other Vanilla varieties such as Madagascan, Bourbon , Mexican, Tahitian etc.
Vanilla from India is the same variety (Planifolia) that is grown in Madagascar, Reunion & Mexico. All these pods have a fruity aroma and strong flavour. As these pods are grown and cured in different climates, they have similar but slightly different properties. Tahitian beans are a different species and have a earthy aroma and flavour and a different texture.
Indian Vanilla has now found acceptance worldwide and the country is now acknowledged as a major Vanilla producing nation.