The dry leaves of Just Naughty ’Nilla, as of yet untouched by the water that will steep them, let off a sweet-but-not-cloying aroma of vanilla and slightly-malty black tea. The vanilla scent seems solid throughout the blend, and I begin the steep. A recommendation of 195ºF water, steeping for 3-5 minutes, leads me to the happy median of 4 minutes in water that is just off boil.
Sniffing at the steeping tea, I am surprised at how subdued the vanilla aroma has become. The blend now smells much more of the black tea, which reminds me of a Keemun. Finished steeping, this tea smells slightly sweet, and I wonder greatly about the taste.
My first sip is very, very smooth. The subtle sweetness surprises me. I was not expecting the natural sweet flavors, but they are much more pleasant than artificial vanilla flavoring. When I say that I was not expecting them, I mean that I was not expecting just how natural the flavor would be. The carob in this blend lends some molasses notes. However, to be sure, these are not unpleasant. Molasses in black tea can be very hit-and-miss. In this blend, it is subtle and not a primary flavor. The tea itself has light, malty notes. Many black teas with vanilla use either malty or quite weak black teas. Just Organic Tea has chosen a nice base for their blend. It will not overpower your senses, but the sipping experience will be a pleasant one.
On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this tea an 87/100.