Todd & HollandEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 27 of 2016 (no. 238 total). The rest of the sample.
Started the new job today! I didn’t have much tea today because I haven’t brought any into the office yet, but it’s on the agenda.
This is my after dinner drink tonight. I didn’t mention in my previous note that I have never had Pear Helene (the dessert) to my knowledge, so I can’t say whether this is true to its name.
I can, however, say that I quite like it.
I haven’t had that many pear teas or tisanes, but this seems to me a very true pear flavor. The blend has some things in it that look like chocolate chards. It is pretty much all chocolate and pear all the time, from the smell of the dry tisane, to the smell of the steeped tisane to the taste.
If I make a Todd & Holland order, this will definitely be a part of it.
Flavors: Chocolate, Pear
Sipdown no. 20 of 2016 (no. 231 total). A sample. This is a chunky blend, and the sample was really only enough to yield four cups. The BF was interested in trying this so I just made the entire thing.
In the packet I definitely see the apple and the almonds. The smell from the packet is very similar to that of T&H’s Amaretti Cookie, and I’m wondering whether it will turn out to taste like that. I hope so.
It has an unusual colored liquor. Peach, or maybe melon? A light yellowish-pink. The aroma is wonderful. Very like the Amaretti Cookie/Almond Biscotti/Brioche profile.
The flavor is way more interesting than the aroma would have led me to believe. There is citrus (lemon?) on the front end of the sip that rapidly dissipates and spreads out into a gently flavored tisane that is in fact quite reminiscent of the various almond pastry teas. But it’s not as simple as that; there’s also a freshness and lightness to the tisane that makes it extremely pleasant to drink late at night. It’s not something that sits heavy in the stomach. The cinnamon, fortunately, while tasteable, isn’t overpowering.
I’m really impressed by this one.
Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Citrus, Lemon, Pastries
Sipdown no. 23 of 2016 (no. 234 total). The rest of the sample.
Another weak tea day (as in the consumption of tea was weak, rather than the tea itself) because of further house cleaning and a rather lengthy nap this afternoon, followed by the baking of cookies (I found as part of the cleaning a jar of cookie mix that a neighbor had made as a holiday present a while back that never got made and now has been) and the cooking of dinner while the Democratic debate was on in the background.
The BF wanted an herbal and I started down the list with a Todd & Holland Pear Helene sample that we haven’t tried yet, which he nixed. This was the second one I mentioned and I was sort of surprised he picked it, but also sort of glad as it means another sipdown.
It’s definitely got a medicinal thing going on, and is mostly peppermint, but if you’re in the mood for a truly herbal herbal rather than a rooibos or a fruit blend, or are looking for a palatable tummy soother, this isn’t bad. I probably wouldn’t drink it often and would likely save it mostly for tummy upsets so I doubt I’ll order it. Refresh by Tazo is a better mint in my view, and mint alone is plenty soothing when I have an upset stomach so I’m not sure I see the need to add this to the cupboard permanently.
Backlogging from last night. Another tisane sample cracked open.
The BF’s tummy was upset and this looked like a promising tummy soother. It seemed to work for him.
Flavor wise, it’s mostly peppermint. The ginger and lemon are discernible, more ginger than lemon, but it’s more about the mint than anything else.
It was nothing special flavorwise, but gets big points for being soothing in a medicinal sort of way.
Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Peppermint
Sipdown no. 28 of 2016 (no. 239 total). The rest of the sample.
The BF was disappointed in the small amount of Pear Helene in the pot, so I made four cups worth of this, which was what was left in the sample pouch.
Not the best of the Todd & Holland tisanes, but a nice orange. I agree with my initial assessment that it isn’t fakey fakey in flavor or a weird orange like baby aspirin.
Breaking open a new tisane sample. I’m getting close to the end of my tisanes, which will open up all sorts of buying opportunities. LOL
This is a chunky fruit blend. The orange “edges” are the biggest chunks, followed by the strawberries. I can see the lemongrass as well.
It has a pretty decent orange smell in the packet. Not medicinal, not tang-like. The hibiscus gives it a gorgeous garnet color. The aroma is orange, and pretty tempting.
The taste is pretty interesting. There’s a slight bitterness, but it doesn’t taste like it’s from the hibiscus. It tastes like it’s from the orange peel. I wouldn’t call it particularly sour, or particularly sweet, but it’s actually pretty pleasant. The orange flavor isn’t as strong as I’d like. I taste the strawberry in there, and I wish that I didn’t, or alternatively that it was billed as orange-strawberry. If there was more orange, I’d be totally sold on this.
I’m weird in that one of my favorite flavors for things is orange. Since I don’t often see orange flavored tisanes, this might be one for the buy pile.
Flavors: Hibiscus, Orange, Strawberry
Time to try a new tisane. I have a few samples left, as the collection continues to get whittled down.
In the packet, it smells like some sort of baked good. Gingerbread, maybe? It’s not so chocolatey that I’d identify it as a chocolate aroma. The mixture looks heavy on the chocolate and caramel pieces and light on the honeybush and rosebuds.
Steeped, it smells boozy. A liqueur smell. Kahlua, maybe, though it has been a while since I had Kahlua. It has a tea-colored liquor that’s remarkably clear given the various sugary things in it that undoubtedly melted when steeped.
Fortunately, it doesn’t taste boozy. Well, at least not in the sip. There’s a bit of liqueur flavor in the aftertaste. The sip is mostly caramel, with some vaguely cocoa notes. It’s smooth and tasty, and a bit on the subtle side which I think improves it over what it might taste like if it was the sort of thing that hit you over the head. I can’t really taste the honeybush, which is a plus.
I was going to say I couldn’t really taste the torte, either, which would be a minus. But as it cools, I do get a suggestion of baked goods. Not as strong as the one in the Amaretti Cookie, but it is there.
This is the sort of thing I would have gone nuts for a few years back when I was marveling at the fact that a drink could taste like a decadent dessert without the calories. It’s good enough that it’s tempting me back toward desserty non-fruit tisanes tonight.
For that I rate it high, but I’m not sure it’s enough to make me completely buck my trend of late to crave fruity tisanes instead of desserty chocolate, caramel, cake, etc. ones.
Flavors: Alcohol, Caramel, Chocolate
Sipdown no. 6 of 2016 (no. 227 total). The rest of the sample.It tastes particularly brisk and bright today, with honey in the aroma and in the finish. The assam throat grab is barely present. It teeters between being a great tea on the surface and something that has a bit more depth.
So here’s a question. When you’re tasting tea do you ever perceive distance in taste? I know some people taste colors, etc. but I noticed that I taste depths and heights. I find myself often saying something is “deep” or “on the surface” or has “high” notes. It’s like taking a VR walk through the taste, I guess, or it feels a little bit like that. Hmmm.
OK. This time I’m going to be a bit more systematic about what I noticed about this tea.
It’s got tippy leaves that smell earthy in the packet, and not smoky, though there is keemun in this. The steeped tea is a clear, reddish chestnut color, and has a malty, sweet aroma. I recall it being smoother the first time I tried it. Today I’m getting a bit of assam throat grab, but not enough to be bothersome. There’s some astringency in the sip, but the aftertaste is more cooling than drying.
I am working on a project to clean up my home office and right now it seems sort of insurmountable, though I’ve definitely made progress. Good thing I’m binge watching Veronica Mars, so I have something to do when I can’t take the organizing any more.
Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2016. As for 2015, I am glad to see it go. Good riddance.
We decided at the last minute to go away for a few days so I’m getting ready for a short trip and don’t have a lot of time to do a proper note here. Fortunately, I have more of this so can give a more detailed account at another time.
I will say that this was quite yum today. Very smooth, very hearty, sweet yet perky, malty yet clean. Great with scrambled eggs and toast.
I am going to try the Irish version at boiling next time because I think it may need it. This would probably have seemed a bit washed out at a lower temp.
Anyway, I may not be on for a few days as I don’t know what the tea situation will be where I’m going, and I also will only have my phone and tablet which isn’t a fun way to write tea notes.
Have fun and play nice. I’ll see you when I get back. :-)
Sipdown no. 3 of 2016 (224 total). The rest of the sample.
This one grew on me over the few days I drank it. Ordinarily, I would expect to prefer this to the English Breakfast simply because of the yunnan in the mix, but even though I like this better than I did when I started, the English Breakfast still has an edge. They’re both really solid, tasty, enjoyable teas.
There’s a distinct cocoa note to this one today, with honey in the finish.
Well, it seems I did steep this at boiling last time, unless I misrecorded the temperature. Don’t know why I thought I hadn’t.
I know that I definitely steeped it a boiling today and it was very enjoyable. The English Breakfast may be more to my taste, but today, a rainy cold day and the first day back after a mini-vacation, this is hitting the spot.
Yesterday wasn’t as mega-productive as earlier in the week, though I did get a few things done (dental appointment, paid some bills, took care of some other personal business). Today started with working out (yay me), followed by some clean up work in my home office that I’ve been meaning to get to forever. I’m in the midst of it now, punctuating it with things like figuring out where I can take my car to get some paint buffed out of it after a close encounter I had with a pole at a gas station (I am not proud of this, but in my defense, I was terribly stressed, and the station was more crowded than I’d ever seen it requiring me to try to squeeze by a pole to get to the pump and I didn’t quite make it), and submitting claims for medical bills I forgot to submit and hope they will get paid.
This is a nice companion to such work. Its a solid, full bodied blend that is almost, but not quite chewy. Yet it’s fairly smooth and not very astringent. No assam throat grab, and a sweet aftertaste. A nice yunnan-y brown sugar and malty aroma that also shows up in the flavor. Dark red-brown, clear liquor. Earthy smelling dry leaf.
It’s one of those breakfast blends that I enjoy drinking but don’t find overly distinctive. There’s nothing that stands out about it. On the other hand, I’m not sure every tea has to stand out. Sometimes you don’t want to think about what you’re drinking, you just want to taste it.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt
Sipdown no. 31 of 2016 (no. 242 total). The rest of the sample.
I steeped the last of this to accompany me as I schlepp kids this morning. I find jasmine pearls incredibly calming so good for running around, or meeting new challenges.
Such as just finishing the second week at work. Time is flying by. Lots to learn, lots to do, and I’m still having a blast. I hope the honeymoon phase lasts forever, but that’s probably not realistic. At least I know myself well enough to know that I start to get disenchanted with work the minute I feel as though it is keeping me from the other things in my life that are important to me. Keeping that in mind, I plan to give myself me-time doses whenever I start to feel that way and see if I can keep the good times rolling.
But this tea. Oh but it’s sad when a jasmine pearls dies, but knowing how much I love them, there are sure to be others. This was a good solid one. Not the best, but by far not the worst I’ve had. The original note captures my feelings on this one pretty well.
Jasmine pearls. One of my absolute favorites.
I thought I’d written a note about this before, but I see I didn’t. I’ve obviously tried it before because the sample was opened. Regardless, the amazing scent of jasmine that comes out of the packet is still quite powerful.
It makes a very pale yellow tea, almost an off-white or cream colored clear liquor. The aroma is one hundred percent floral.
The flavor is lovely. I’m a sucker for jasmine greens in general and pearls in particular, and in going through my stash I’ve found a number of them. And quite a few other jasmines as well, oolongs and whites. This one has a subtle flavor that isn’t as overwhelmingly floral as its fragrance, with a green underlying flavor that leans toward grass rather than vegetables.
I’ll enjoy sipping this one down. It isn’t multi-layered and amazing like the Samovar version, but it’s very yum nevertheless.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Jasmine
I had an extremely productive day yesterday. I made a ton of phone calls and sent a ton of emails to try to wrap up a lot of the stuff of daily living that I need to get under control before I start my new job. I also worked out and finally got no. 1 his cell phone, which was supposed to be a Chanukkah present but took a while because of some really awful bait and switch stuff that went on with the provider we originally thought would give us talk and text only and parental controls for him for $15 a month based on their web advertising, none of which turned out to be true. So I bit the bullet and got a more expensive plan added onto my existing one. But at least it is done and he is happy. Plus now he has no excuse for not calling if he’s not going to be where he says he is. :-)
But anyway. I may be getting jaded in my old age, but I haven’t been overly impressed by a lot of the tea I’ve been drinking lately.
Take this one, for example. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a perfectly decent chocolate/coconut tea, on the juicy raw coconut end of the spectrum rather than the toasty toasted coconut end of the spectrum. But I’ve had so many of these over the years, most of which are at least decent, that none of them really stand out anymore.
In the packet it has that cocoa mint smell that coconut teas sometimes give off and I can see the little bits of flavored things in it. White chocolate chips, coconut flakes, cocoa bits and chocolate chips. Small ones. Predictably, given the sugary things in it, it steeps cloudy but otherwise a pretty generic tea color.
Now I want to say something about the aroma of coconut teas in general, not just this one. Do you find they generally don’t smell very good? I mean, I wouldn’t go this far, but the BF thinks coconut teas smell like vomit. I think they smell more like hot plastic, but in general, there’s something about the smell I don’t love.
That said, the aroma of coconut teas doesn’t usually affect the taste for me in a negative way. And it doesn’t here. It’s perfectly decent, and I would drink it if I couldn’t get another perfectly decent one that is perhaps a bit better to my taste, like the Premium Steap.
Flavors: Chocolate, Coconut, Mint
I like the name of this one so I cracked open the sample.
The tea in the packet smells like fruity trail mix. Really. It would sort of look like it as well if not for the dark tea leaves in among the mix.
The aroma of the steeped tea is a malty Yunnan tea smell with a tart hibiscus streak and berries around the edges. It’s a clear, brown, tea-colored tea.
The first thing I taste is hibiscus, but it’s not pucker-worthy hibiscus. Whether because of the fruit or because of the underlying tea, there is a sweetness that makes it not only tolerable, but tasty. I can taste the berries as well. Blueberry more than strawberry, but both are distinguishable. The tea itself isn’t easy to detect, but there’s a subtle, cocoa-like note that I think comes from the tea.
I keep thinking to myself how this would be different if a French company did it. It would be like this, but with a few hard edges filed off. This is a bolder flavor than most French flavored black teas I’ve had, but it is still quite enjoyable for a change of pace in the flavored black tea department.
Flavors: Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Hibiscus, Strawberry
I just opened a sample of this I’ve had for a while. (This is no longer available at the Todd & Holland web site).
In the packet it smells like some sort of confection. Not candy really. Not cookies… well, maybe cookies? Or a flourless cake?
Steeped, it smells more like candy truffles. Or chocolate covered cherries, which is sort of strange because there’s not anything that would ordinarily be expected to generate a cherry aroma in this. And yet, there it is. A dark, candy sort of cherry. There’s a slight cocoa note as well. The tea is a cherry red-brown and is surprisingly clear given the chocolate chips as ingredients.
The tea tastes pretty much like it smells, except that it has a strange bitter note to it on the back end. Not so much a bitter tea note as a bitter other note, like baking chocolate bitter perhaps.
It’s not horrible, but it’s not as good as some of the other Todd and Holland flavored black teas. Which may explain why it is no longer available.
But the important thing about today is — I have news!
I accepted a job offer, so I will be employed again as of the end of January! It seems like a great group of people, and a fun company, and it is about a 10 minute commute from my house (I am planning to time a bike commute and see if that would make sense since it is so close).
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa
Not quite done with my confectionery tea fix for the morning. I thought about having the Teavana Almond Biscotti, but then I saw that I had some of this so decided to try it instead.
In the packet it smells very similar to the Teavana. Which in turn was pretty much identical to the SpecialTeas Almond Cookie, which in turn was similar to American Tea Room Brioche.
I did this before in a previous note, but just for fun, let’s compare:
Teavana Almond Biscotti—Black tea, almond pieces, cinnamon pieces, and safflower blossoms
SpecialTeas Almond Cookie (and yes, I read the thread about SpecialTeas being a provider to Teavana and that maybe being part of why they aren’t around anymore)—tea, almonds, cinnamon, flavouring, safflower blossoms
American Tea Room Brioche—well-oxidized ebony leaves are contrasted with pale, sliced almonds, bits of cinnamon and vermillion-colored safflower blossoms.
Guess what Amaretti Cookie has? Black tea, almonds, cinnamon, and safflowers.
One of the things I like about these blends is the safflowers.They brighten the tea up and make it look festive. Red is particularly fetching among the black leaves. I’m not sure how and what they contribute to the taste. In fact, I’m not sure I know what safflowers taste like.
The tea is a medium golden brown and translucent, but is not clear. The aroma has an interesting citrus note to it but otherwise smells like almond cookies.
Flavor. Well, it’s definitely almond-y, more pastry than cookie, I think. Rather like an almond croissant and very tasty, but the first sip did a bit of a throat grab on me. I should perhaps steep this at my usual 3:30 instead of 4, but I thought I’d go with the package directions to start. I also wonder what a slightly lower temperature would do.
It’s got a pretty amazing aftertaste. Like what I taste after eating almond pastries such as bear claws. It’s a juicier flavor than the Amaretto Cookies I’ve had (the kind that come in the red tin, individually wrapped in paper that is fun to set on fire, but don’t try that at home, kids). Those are crisper, in my recollection.
I haven’t had either the Teavana or the ATR versions in a while, though the SpecialTeas is sadly, no more.
I’m not sure I’m ready to unseat Brioche as my favorite in this genre, but this is a good tea and I’m glad to have it available as an alternative. Rating it the same as the Teavana and SpecialTeas in this genre.
Flavors: Almond, Cookie, Pastries