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How Heilala Vanilla Beans Grow

Grown on rich, Pacific soil and dried under the Polynesian sun, the world’s best vanilla isn’t made in a lab — it’s the all-natural product of a perfect climate and hard-working farmers and families who carefully cultivate and hand-select premium vanilla beans, to undergo a curing and drying process where 200+ flavour compounds develop.

Heilala Vanilla beans are powerful in more ways than one.
Along with the intense flavour that we know and love, each vanilla bean impacts the lives of families all over the Kingdom of Tonga. We not only know where our vanilla beans come from – we lovingly tend to every vine.

Some vanilla products take a fairly long and wild ride from bean to bottle. Not Heilala. We own and control the entire process. Our farmers use traditional Fiki trees for their vanilla orchids to climb and flourish. The strong, narrow trunk provides height while the leaves provide the ideal shade for tender new vanilla beans. Our team nurtures the orchid plants, hand pollinate each flower, harvest the pods, and make every one of our products. 

Heilala is a connected ecosystem and having an ethical integrated supply chain that ensures we are invested in every part of the vanilla process.

Vanilla Growing Calendar

Growing | October to March

Vanilla orchid plants bear a small creamy flower that must be hand pollinated. All our weeding mulching, pollinating, picking, drying, curing, and grading is completed by hand.
Sela, our Farm Manager in Tonga is just as passionate about growing vanilla and works hard to make sure that the vanilla we grow is the best in the world.


Harvesting | April to June

Approximately nine months after pollination, mature green beans are ready to be picked. Our farmers allow the beans to ripen on the vine, hand-selecting the vanilla beans as their tips start to turn yellow.


Curing | July to September

Once picked, the green beans are blanched in boiling water which starts the chemical reaction to develop the vanilla flavour followed by a sweating process. Our traditional curing method results in flavourful vanilla beans.


Drying | August to September

The vanilla beans are turned hourly whilst drying under the South Pacific sun every day for three months. In this time the vanilla flavour develops and intensifies, and beans turn dark brown and become supple and full of aromatic seeds. Our farmers know exactly once the vanilla beans have reached perfection.


Processing | All Year

Vanilla beans are aged and filtered for three months in extraction tanks to create a vanilla extract which is the base of most Heilala Vanilla Products. A range of vanilla products are then crafted in our purpose-built facility such as vanilla paste, alcohol free vanilla, sugar, syrup along with vanilla beans and powder.


Marketing | All Year

Heilala Vanilla products are shipped around the world to people who appreciate high quality vanilla whilst supporting the grower communities in Tonga with every creation.


We passionately care for our vanilla beans and know that once they leave our processing facilities, they enter the hands of our vanilla loving community that uses them in wonderful ways. This marks the end of their journey with us and the beginning of their journey with you.