I use a lot of vanilla beans (mostly making this three or four times a week: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2770... ), and have tried all kinds of beans and sources. Of everything I've tried, I must say, the Tahitian vanilla beans from the Spice House ( http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/t... ) are absolutely superior to everything else I sampled. And not just by some subtle intangible amount. It's like the difference between a Cadillac and a Kia. TSH's beans are huge, plump (like the size of my little finger), super moist, and almost unbelievably fragrant and flavorful. I don't know what sort of mutant vanilla plants they harvest these things from, but they are objectively superior to everything else I've tried, and I've tried a lot of beans. If you like Tahitian vanilla beans (which have a distinct floral note that I love), these are the best. (Oddly, TSH's other, non-Tahitian, vanilla beans are good, but not really exceptional as far as I can tell.)
You maybe can tell this rant was building up for some time now, but I'll stop now.