Sri Lanka produces Bourbon-style vanilla from the Vanilla Planifolia species, a terrestrial flowering orchid native to Mexico. The gourmet beans have a higher-than average water and oil content and give up a sweet, floral aroma with earthy, chocolate mocha and fruity undertones. The long, slender pods have lower vanillin content than other varieties, giving the vanilla a gentler flavor and more smokiness. Bourbon vanilla transposes easily between sweet and savory dishes. The spice is just as delicious in meaty stews, creamy sauces and refined seafood dishes as in homemade ice cream, fine-dining desserts, cakes, cookies, health drinks, and cocktails. The delicate palate of Sri Lankan vanilla does not stand up as well to high temperatures and offer more for short-bake or no-bake goods that don't require intense heat.
Sri Lanka is famous for exporting the finest quality Ceylon tea and coffee, and vanilla farming is a new crop for the island country. The rich, fertile soils and tropical climate of the southern Asian region create perfect growing conditions for high-quality vanilla production. The vanilla vines are mostly grown as subsistence crops amongst the tea plantations and in the rainforests and cured using natural drying methods. Staying true to its reputation as a gastronomic destination, Sri Lanka has introduced culinary gems such as vanilla-infused virgin coconut oil, honey, vinegar and tea.