Happy Monday my dear tea friends! I think I have Pharyngitis, this cold thing that I had never really made me too stuffy or cough-y, it has mostly been a nasty sore throat and fever, and pretty much that is all that is left, a stupid sore throat. Luckily it is not affecting my ability to taste things and talk, though it has made swallowing a giant pain. On a side note, I am still angry at the dryer for ruining so many of my clothes, most of them I can 'replace' by going to the Goodwill Bin store and paying 75 cents a pound for clothes, but the underwear that the dryer melted had to be replaced by spending legit money at Target, BUT there is a silver lining, I found that in the little boy's section they had Minecraft clothes! An epic shirt and a Creeper hoodie that I have wanted for a while but did not want to pay a small fortune for, but it turns out a large boy's shirt and hoodie fits me perfectly, and is half the price of an adult small. Sneaky sneaky! I will totally have to get them once I have a bit of extra money and can justify buying new clothes again...it just feels kinda wrong to me, but I have been a thrifter for life.
Today we are looking at Liquid Proust Teas' French Toast Dianhong, a gong yi cha (or craft tea, if I am doing my translation at all correct) basically it is a blooming tea without the flower, and made with Dianhong, one of my favorite Yunnan red teas, and flavored to resemble French Toast. I used to eat French Toast all the time, but since I went to the (sad) ways of Gluten Free, I do not indulge because bread has become stupid expensive! It was a favorite 3 in the morning snack that I often found my dad cooking and would join him for some nibbles, though we ate it with ketchup rather than syrup, and they were savory rather than sweet, but in my older days I found I preferred the sweeter version! The aroma of the sizable ball is a real knockout! I am hit with intense notes of vanilla with notes of cocoa too with a tiny bit of sweet potato and roasted peanuts (hello Dianhong) alongside the tiniest note of bready batter. The vanilla reminds me more of real vanilla extract rather than vanilla beans, that distinct sweet and slightly alcohol note of the extract, this rather than straight up vanilla beans, reminds me of the extract that permeates French Toast batter, especially the way I make it...who needs a measuring spoon?
I decided to gongfu this thing, in retrospect I should have used a bigger gaiwan so it could really unfold without limits instead of having its little needles popping out the top of the water, but all my tea gear is still packed up. I will say that sniffing the tea made me melt into my chair a bit, it smells soooooo good! Very rich notes of vanilla and cocoa waft up from the slowly unfurling ball of now soggy tea. Along side the vanilla (really it is like I am sitting next to a bottle of vanilla extract) there is gentle cocoa, yams, and peanuts, yum! The liquid is a heady mixture of vanilla and cocoa with a touch of peanuts, so much vanilla sweetness.
The taste is kinda fantastic, very very strong vanilla, it has a bit of a cooling alcohol burn similar to vanilla extract, but it certainly is deliciously strong. Like drinking vanilla extract but without the really gross taste if you do that (trust me on this!) Along with the strong Vanilla which waxes and wanes, strong at first, milder in the middle, and strong at the finish with a lingering aftertaste, is notes of cocoa (ok, with this sweetness it is straight up chocolate) and yams, with a mild roasted peanut note at the finish.
Onward to the second steep! The aroma is much like the first, a metric ton of vanilla with cocoa and yams taking up the rear. The taste of the tea (also the unfurling ball looks like a sea monster) has a very similar profile to the first steep, but with stronger cocoa notes and extra yam sweetness.
Third steeping! The aroma is still very similar, though the vanilla is calming down some while the cocoa and yam notes of the tea become more prevalent. The same can be said about the taste, lots less vanilla and lots more cocoa and yams, the tea's natural honey sweetness is shining through, meaning I like the tea and the flavor, always a good sign. I steeped this one once more, after that I found the vanilla taste was gone and it was just the sweet taste of the Dianhong ball. I was mildly perturbed, I was told that the taste would evolve a lot between steeps and it was very similar each steep to me, maybe there is something wrong with my taste buds...but everything tastes the same...worrying thoughts if true. It could also be the difference in steeping styles, temperatures, steeping vessels, and all that fun stuff, so I am not too worried. I will say I enjoyed this tea, not sure I would call it French Toast, since other than the vanilla extract I dump into the batter, it did not taste much like the toast. I certainly foresee myself buying some of these, I love watching the sea monsters unfurl, and I am curious to see how other steeping methods affect the taste.