I wanted to do this for a while now, but somehow it always got pushed away. Until today! Today starts the new series where I review an ENTIRE flavoring line, in its entirety. This is different from flavoring reviews, because it takes a look at the flavorings as a whole, their usefulness, their quality, and their versatility, all together. And why? What’s the point? Well, I think mixers don’t quite appreciate flavoring lines in their entirety. We often cannibalize and mangle flavorings from all over the world together, to create these Frankenstein-like concoctions. We lose the understanding that some flavorings need to be kept within their own family. This will help give, not only an appreciation of the flavorings, but an understanding of how they work when in the respective families. So let’s take a look at TPA.
Overview: The Perfumers Apprentice is one of the oldest, most used, and most known flavoring lines in vaping, period. It’s the default, it’s the standard, and it’s scope is quite large. This is a very affordable flavoring line, with 10ml flavorings costing only $1.29 – $1.49 from places like Bullcityflavors.com & ecigexpress.com respectively. When purchasing wholesale, prices get even lower. There are nearly 300 flavorings in this entire line, spanning from traditional fruits, bakeries, beverages, nuts, florals, and even savories. And the line continues to grow, with new flavorings being released periodically. You can also purchase these flavorings in many countries across the world, including but not limited to the UK, EU, Canada, South America, Germany, France, Italy, Malaysia, and Australia. And the customer service has always been pretty good. Linda, the owner of the company, is very easy to reach, full of knowledge, and very helpful.
Staples: Luckily for us, TFA has many staples in their line, that are must haves for mixers. Here is a list of the ones that I would consider a “staple”
- TFA Banana Nut Bread
- TFA Bavarian Cream
- TFA Cheesecake w/ Graham Crust
- TFA Graham Cracker
- TFA Marshmallow
- TFA Pistachio
- TFA DX Peanut Butter
- TFA Strawberry
- TFA Strawberry Ripe
- TFA Sweet Cream
- TFA RY4 Double
- TFA Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- TFA Vanilla Swirl
All of these flavorings will be extremely useful as they are widely used in many recipes. TFA Banana Nut Bread is easily the best in its niche profile range. TFA Bavarian Cream, Cheesecake w/ Graham, Sweet Cream, & Vanilla Swirl, are some of the most delicious creams on the market, with high versatility, and are all very forgiving. New mixers should have no issue messing around with these building cream bases. TFA Peanut Butter V2 is the best PB on the market, with nothing coming even close to it. Marshmallow is great for adding fluffiness to any recipe, though sometimes overused. TFA RY4 Double is the default RY4, that packs amazing flavor and vapor experience. And the Strawberries are easily some of the best on the market – with great flavor, but most of all, great presence. Unfortunately, some can’t taste them at all, and TFA Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is extremely polarizing with half of the users tasting offending off notes. So looking at the staples list, we can see that TFA has a good number of flavorings that are must haves.
Worst Offenders: Now we get into the worst of the bunch. The offender list. These are flavorings that are terrible, either in flavor or usability. With TFA holding a line of nearly 300 flavorings, it unfortunately packs a high % of throwaway’s.
- TFA Honey
- TFA Cheesecake
- TFA DX Milk
- TFA DX Sweet Cream
- TFA Pancake
- TFA Black Tea
- TFA Blue Raspberry
- All TFA Coffees
- TFA Raisin
- TFA Eggnog
What’s interesting about this list is that it has a few of the absolute worst flavorings on the market period. TFA Honey, Cheesecake, and Raisin, all top the list for the worst of the worst. TFA Honey being a mixture of cat piss and dirt. TFA Cheesecake (not graham crust) tasting like fresh spoiled milk, mixed with puke. And TFA Raisin which tastes like a dirty old woman. These are flavorings that have entered the hall of shame, for their infamous flavor. Other flavorings on the list are flavorings that have no redeeming quality whatsoever. TFA DX Milk and Sweet Cream bordering the line of TFA Cheesecake, though with less offensive “cheese” notes. TFA Pancake with its terrible representation of a bakery. TFA Blue Raspberry contains no flavor whatsoever. And TFA Black Tea is great if you need a strong, offensive vodka flavor – not a tea flavor. And lastly, to me at least, all the coffees are extremely disappointing. They maybe aren’t “terrible” but they aren’t good and they aren’t useful. I’m sure some would disagree.
The Rest: The rest of the line is OK. Fruits like TFA Quince, Jackfruit, Papaya, Blueberry Extra, Banana Cream, Honeydew, and Dragonfruit are standouts and provide really nice flavor, with great blending properties. But they lack on the bakery and dessert side, with Vanilla Cupcake and Cinnamon Sugar Cookie being the standouts. So if you’re a fan of the baked goods, this isn’t the best line. It seems they also lack in citruses, with many of them falling flat. The tobaccos are hit and miss, with RY4 Double being excellent, but others like Cubano Type, being so-so. It seems like many of the flavorings have uses, but aren’t good enough to stand on their own and will require help from other companies. While they work great as a starting point, they aren’t good enough to finish the job. And it just seems their lack of unique profiles, bakeries, and desserts (aside from the staples) leave the line feeling a bit thin and the user wanting a bit more out of the nearly 300 offerings.
Versatility & Ease of Use: Versatility measures how much a flavoring can be used. And TFA is known for their versatility. I’ve never had much issues blending any of their flavorings. Between Capella, Flavor West, FlavourArt, Flavorah, OneonOne, TFA fits in nicely, with most flavorings able to remain present. Even against more potent flavorings because these flavorings scale well – meaning you can still taste them from 1% up to 10%. And best of all, TFA is widely used worldwide. So you’ll find thousands of recipes that utilize their ingredients and should never run into a situation where you don’t know what to do with a flavoring. Lastly, these are some of the easiest flavorings to use. Most of the flavorings fall under the 5% rule, meaning their average concentration is around 5%. This should allow you to jump right into mixing these up. They’re also extremely forgiving meaning if you accidentally use a touch more or less, it doesn’t completely throw off the entire recipe.
Value: Lastly, I want to talk about value. I think TFA has some of the best value out of any other line. With flavorings costing less than 2 bucks, and the high amount of staples, you’re sure to build amazing recipes, at extremely low prices. Many of their fruits & candies, while not the best on the market, do provide great flavor that are very easy to use. I will say that the flavorings seem to be a bit less potent than others on the market. This means you end up using a bit more, and having to re-up a bit more often. But it’s nothing too crazy, and overall, you’re getting great benefit for the money.
Score: The Flavors Apprentice is the “default” flavoring line for DIYer’s in the US for good reason. Their flavorings are very popular, leaving you no shortage of recipes to mix. They are very easy to use & not extremely potent which would call for more challenging recipe development. And the percentage of good flavors to bad, is positive, not too mention the high number of staple flavors. While the line falls flat in citruses, bakeries and desserts, they still provide great flavorings to build on to. This is certainly a flavoring line that anyone can get into and know they are getting a good value, with easy to use flavorings to start playing around with.
Thank you Wayne for this post. I just started this hobby a few weeks ago and this helps me immensely. Please do more.