Todd & HollandEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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
Sipdown no. 62 of 2016 (no. 273 total). A sample.
I’ve been extremely busy at work, so much so that I am feeling it physically. My body feels beat up.
Meanwhile, both kids have playoff games today (two different teams).
Drinking the last bit of this one as first tea of the morning, without any fish accompaniment despite my discovery that darjeeling and fish work well together. I also forgot to use a lower temp which had worked well. But it is hitting the spot anyway. The muscatel notes aren’t as sharp as some others, but still give a grape-flavor that I’m enjoying this a.m.
Not quite to the bottom of this sample yet, and really enjoying this cup.
It follows the Tea Gmumblmublecan’teverspellitwithoutlookingitup Marzipan and a tuna sandwich. One or the other or both, or perhaps making this at a slightly lower temperature (200F) has brought out a really lovely second flush flavor.
We’re heading into the very hot months in my neck of the woods, when traditionally my tea consumption drops off and so does my note posting. In fact, I often disappear for months at a time right around now. The draw of cold brew may keep that from happening this year. We shall see. It will be a busy summer. The kids aren’t quite out of school yet and both kids’ baseball teams are still in the running during the little league playoffs. Plus, no. 1 got on a summer tournament team (great honor for him, lots of schlepping for us) so it’s gonna be a busy few months.
I think I’ve concluded that darjeeling goes well with fish.
I’m OD-ing on tea a little here, but it’s because the kids are out of the house and I have nothing on the agenda until they get back. So I have a rare opportunity to play in my tea and write some notes uninterrupted.
I had the idea that this would be a good palate cleanser to transition out of some of the heavier stuff I’ve been drinking this morning, culminating in full blown chai. And also a nice transition from darker teas to lighter ones for this afternoon.
I had to remind myself that FTGFOP means Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, or it’s joke interpretation — Far Too Good For Ordinary People. LOL
This is a never opened sample that I bought a while back. The leaves are indeed quite tippy, some of them rather silvery looking. They have an earthy smell before steeping.
Steeped, they produce a medium-light brown, clear liquor. But the smell — oh the smell! This has to be what they mean by muscatel, though I’ve never tasted muscatel to my knowledge or muscatel grapes for that matter. The aroma is so grapey, but has that pungent note that takes it up a note to winey. Pretty serious stuff.
The tea is fairly astringent, drying in the sip but smooth in the finish that leaves a fresh, leafy-ness in mouth. It grabs a little at the back of the throat, which is the only downside for me. I don’t really enjoy that sensation.
It’s medium-bodied to light-bodied, and I wonder whether it might benefit from slightly lower temperature, which I intend to try before the sample is done.
The flavor is fairly mild and has some white wine notes that give it a little tartness.
Except for the throat grab, very enjoyable.
Flavors: Grapes, Muscatel, White Wine
This tea smells nice but at the same time it’s a little strange, like a mish mash of flavoured sweet fruit lipglosses combined into one. Somewhat artificial and overly sweet! It’s steeped scent is also the same.
Yeah…. it tastes as it smells….so like lipgloss. I know I’ve said it a lot but seriously, it’s like applying a vast amount of fruity lipgloss and then licking your lips. It’s chemical, waxy, synethetic, overly sweet, plasticy and the whole crazy flavour just lingers in the after taste. While it is very unusual and unpleasant at times it’s not terrible, just not for me. I had a friend that loved to eat lipgloss, literally she would run her finger around my chocolate orange lipgloss tin and eat what she could scoop out! Maybe she would like this tea…
Enjoying a cup of this now after a long morning of training – just as bold as ever! With cream added, it’s heavenly. So far, I’d say this is my favorite find from Todd & Holland, although I definitely need to make another trip soon so I can acquire some new varieties!
I ran out of this tea a while ago, and haven’t been able to go back to Todd & Holland and get more until yesterday. I’ve missed my tradition of drinking this tea on Sunday mornings! So glad to have it back, and it tastes just as great as I remember :) Still one of the best vanilla black tea I’ve had.
There are few things I appreciate more than a nice, strong black tea that can stand up to a little cream and sugar. And boy, does this tea stand up well! Underneath the bold and malty taste of the nilgri is the smooth and natural flavor of vanilla. I will definitely be keeping this one in my regular rotation :)
Flavors: Malt, Tannin, Vanilla
Very rich and almost coffee-like – this is the closest any tea I’ve had has ever come to coffee without actually having coffee beans in it. I can taste a hint of vanilla, which tastes natural to me and not at all artificial. I also picked up a tannic aftertaste. The aroma is heavenly – almost chocolatey, with a hint of the vanilla! I brewed this in my Teavana PerfectTea maker and steeped it for 4 minutes, with a teaspoon of rock sugar added. Next time, I’ll see how it stands up to some cream!
Flavors: Tannic, Vanilla
After a looooooooong morning (involving a slashed rear tire and extreme tardiness to class), I brewed this into my Aladdin tumbler before heading to work in the afternoon. It was just as great as the first time, and fortified me to power through the rest of my day.
First let me say that, as a huge fan of Arthurian mythology, I had to buy this tea as soon as I saw its name. This is a great, robust black tea that’s perfect for morning drinking! This was my first cup. I steeped it for about 4 minutes in my Teavana PerfectTea maker, and added in a teaspoon of rock sugar for sweetness. The tea brewed to a gorgeous deep red. Taste-wise, I got plenty of maltiness from the Assam and a little undercurrent of smokiness as well, with a slightly tannic aftertaste. Overall, very hearty and enjoyable! Next time I might try it with cream :)
Flavors: Malt, Smoke, Tannic
I really enjoyed this tea… could not recommend it more! This green reminds me a bit of Japanese green tea yet has all of the character of a great Chinese green. The wonderful deep green dry leaves have a remarkable scent (which is why I purchased it) of dry herbs and spices, sweet dry flowers, and a light must of decomposing leaves and woods. At first I thought the slight must on the nose could be a flaw, but it was not at all. Very delicate pale ivory cup which moved into chartreuse on 2nd infusion. Herbal scents are almost perfume-like surround by the vegetal/grassy notes. On 2nd infusion the vegetal/chlorophyll notes really pop with clear sweet honeydew melon and faint hints of baking spices. Almonds on the mid-palate brings a roundness to the mildly buttery cup and draw you into the lemon-like mineral acidity and lasting mildly astringent finish. Wonderful balance! Was able to get 3 infusions (1:00/1:35/2:00), with the 2nd being the finest.
After reading more about the tea and where it is from, I found that it is partially shaded by fog (like Japanese Kabusecha, Tencha and Gyokuro) which forces the leaves to produce more chlorophyll which is why the color is so deep and why those “green” flavors are so prevalent like Japanese green tea.
Sipdown no. 147 of the year 2014.
Friday, my ISP went down in California and it is only now back up. I’m unable to get online through my router, but I can get on through the DSL modem alone.
I hate my ISP. I want to get cable because though I live in Silicon Valley, I can only get the most limited DSL service, 1.5 MBPS in my area. Which sucks. The problem is I’ve had the same ISP for almost 15 years and everyone…. everyone… who has my email address, from banks and doctors to friends and relatives, has this email address for me. I’m not sure what to do about it, but the situation has become intolerable.
In any case, I drank other teas this weekend and even took notes on them, but as this is a sipdown, it’s the only one I think I’m going to post. I’m just really in an awful mood and I don’t want to be a downer through five notes instead of one.
The blend I drank is different from the one currently up on the T&H web site. This one is cranberry only, not the “riot of red fruits.” Perhaps the riot is better.
This was a dark brown tea with small leaves. I believe it was a keemun base, or at least had a lot of keemun in it because it had a smoky aroma when dry and after steeping and there was smoke in the flavor, too. The dry mix had pretty red petals in it and among the smoke was also a berry aroma, but not clearly cranberry.
The tea’s aroma had some maltiness and a berry note. It was a deep reddish brown color.
I had this twice, though I didn’t log it the first time because it was one of the teas that the Original Spice Decaf encroached upon and all I could taste was this weird cinnamon aura. The second time, yesterday, that was not present, thankfully.
Unfortunately, the tea was pretty bitter. I steeped for four minutes and perhaps it would have been less so if I’d only steeped for 3, but since I don’t have more, I can’t try it. I had high hopes for this, but it didn’t do it for me. The underlying tea base just didn’t work with the flavoring agent—too strong, too smoky, and the berry flavor too light, vague almost, with no natural sweetness at all. I can see liking a black cranberry tea with a more amenable base, and it makes me want to try some.
But this, alas, was a total bust for me.
Sipdown no. 146 of the year 2014. Almost to 150! Still hard to believe I’ve hardly made a dent.
This one is very consistent in flavor, which reinforces my thoughts about it from last night. I forgot to mention its steeped color, which is a sort of maple syrup color.
And great, I just poured some down my keyboard. Not on purpose. Grumble grumble.
One more thing worth mentioning about this. It’s strong, and it has a long memory. This morning I steeped the LeafSpa Irish Breakfast in the Breville, after having steeped this last night. There was definitely a cinnamon-y aura around the Irish Breakfast, despite my most excellent rinsing of the filter and pot.
Very strong cinnamon smell from the packet and a blend full of small bits of what appears to be stick cinnamon. After steeping, the cinnamon aroma is sweet and reminiscent of red hot candies, but at the same time there’s a sort of a woody fragrance that is pleasant.
Wow. The tea is very sweetly cinnamon-y, very reminiscent of the Harney Hot Cinnamon Spice—but because it is decaf, with a bit less heft. I haven’t tried the Harney decaf version of the Hot Cinnamon Spice, but I should. I suspect there’s not a need to stock both that and this, but I don’t know how the Harney measures up as a decaf.
This, however, is quite flavorful and in a very good way. As decafs go, it’s better than most I’ve tried. There is hardly any tea flavor that I can discern, but what it lacks in tea flavor it more than makes up for in sweet cinnamon. The tea isn’t the reason to drink this, as it isn’t the reason to drink the Harney Hot Cinnamon Spice.
It gets high marks from me for a decaf. The only reason I’m not rating it a bit higher is I’d like to taste more tea even in a decaf.
Sipdown no. 144 of the year 2014.
I would have liked to hold onto this one a bit longer since T&H doesn’t offer it anymore and it’s one of the better decafs I’ve had, but I have to be ruthless where sipdowns are concerned or I’ll lose my momentum. ;-) I’ve come dangerously close to losing it a couple of times recently and I know it’s going to be a fight to keep going.
The rest of this isn’t about tea, so skip if you’re not interested in my philosophizing for a bit.
Overthem00n and I were talking the other day about “serial obsessions.” Those things certain personality types, such as mine, throw themselves into for periods of time then max out on for a while and move to the next thing. Mine seem to rotate though they don’t follow any particular rotation order. Fiction writing. Voracious reading. Tea. Computer games. Exercising obsessively (i.e., every day without fail even if it means I do it at midnight). Involvement in various types of social media. (There are also the one-offs that I’ve been obsessive about but don’t seem to be in the rotation, like knitting and other needlework and gardening.) I really should google this and see if anything has been written about it.
Anna’s recent post about not drinking tea because then she’d have to write a note about it reminded me of how my serial obsessions tend to peter out and then I find myself going on to the next thing. The feel-good pay off isn’t as present as a feeling of obligation, drudgery or frustration. The last time I fell off the Steepster bandwagon for an extended period, it was because of this exact feeling. More work than fun. It happens to me with writing usually after a much longer period of time, but it’s the same principle. It stops being fun and starts being “work.” (It’s always work, but usually it’s fun.) But the problem is that if I stop for a long time, then I never know what would have happened if I kept pushing. Like what if I quit each time, right when it’s getting hard—but it’s getting hard not because of why I think it’s getting hard, I.e., the usual writer frustration and self-doubt, but because I’m about to break through to a new personal best of sorts? What if I’m keeping myself from continuing to improve because I quit when it gets hard?
So this last time it happened, as an experiment, I decided to make myself push through. Keep going to my class, keep doing the exercises each week even if I wrote nothing else. Keep doing that until the enthusiasm returned, because it always does. It’s just that in the past, I’d stop doing it for years at a time until the enthusiasm returned. Okay, this last time I went on hiatus I had a good excuse, two kids born within 21 months of each other and a full time job. But when I think about all the books I read about parenting small children, I recognize that my activities during that period were rather part of the obsession continuum as well. Yeah, I made my own organic baby food. That sort of thing. I’d do it again, too, but in its way, it was part of the same channeling of passion in a particular way.
And I think it’s working. I can feel the enthusiasm for fiction writing coming back. There have been a few external serendipitous things that have worked to push me back toward the enthusiasm, but mostly it’s just time, I think. So I think I’m learning to turn my serial obsessions into something less serial and less obsession-like.
(Now watch me disappear from Steepster for months after saying this. LOL. No, really, I’m not feeling that Steepster is work right now. I’m feeling more that my body is rebelling against too much tea-drinking for some reason. Burn out is another byproduct of obsession, so I intend to push through on this, too, and just drink as much tea as feels right, and write about it if I have something to say. How normal that sounds!)
To give you an idea of how my day has been, I thought I needed to start with something really strong, so I made coffee. A whole pot. Now it’s 8 p.m. and I realize I have not had a single cup from that pot. Nor have I had anything else to drink besides water.
Now it’s too late to drink caffeine, and since I’d mentioned that I had this the other day, fully intending to drink it on the same day as the non-decaf version, I thought it would be a good candidate. But then I went to write a note and it wasn’t in the database. No problem, thought I, I’ll just set up a page. But apparently Todd & Holland no longer sells this, so there’s no picture or info on their site to use to spiff up the page. (Sorry.)
It smells like peach in the packet, but it’s not as rich a peach smell as the caffeinated version. There’s also the sort of chlorine-y note I get from decafs . The first thing I thought when I smelled the tea’s aroma was “cannabis” and but there’s a peachy note too. Very deep red color. Quite pretty.
I was prepared for a very washed out flavor when I smelled the chlorine-y note but surprisingly, that’s not what I’m getting. Though it doesn’t pack the punch of the caffeinated version, there’s nothing washed out about the flavor. It’s a nice round peach flavor, not heavy on the ginger, with a mild Ceylon underneath.
Figures that I’d like this one since it’s no longer available.
I am hopeful things are going to settle down a bit now and I’ll be able to be more attentive to my tea drinking. I fear that I may have to drink my Vanilla Comoro tonight just to get in a sipdown. Ah well, it had to happen sometime. My sipdown strategy seems to be failing abysmally, primarily because I haven’t been drinking enough tea.
Apologies for not being able to read/respond as much lately during this period of high intensity non-tea related commitments.
Sipdown no. 140 of the year 2014. I did not do a sipdown yesterday so I’m going to try to get in two today.
As against other caffeinated teas that are heavy on the peach, this one is very good, but I prefer some others I’ve had recently.
Interestingly, the decaf version stacks up very well against other decaf blacks and I see that I rated that one higher than this one, since it’s being judged on different attributes. That may be the first time that’s ever happened.
It seems I have a sample of this in both a decaf and a non-decaf version, and since it’s still fairly early in the day I thought I’d give the regular version a try and perhaps follow it up this evening with the de-caf just for fun.
In the packet, there’s more peach fragrance than ginger, and a bit of a toasty black tea fragrance underneath. After steeping, I smell mostly a sweet, malty, medium-light bodied tea that’s a really lovely color, almost a ruby red.
The flavor is interesting. The peach is the stronger flavor by far, but I can taste the ginger. The tea is a tad bitter which makes me think I steeped too long and I’ll cut back to three minutes next time, but it’s definitely not occluded by the fruit flavor. I’m intrigued to see how it tastes if it’s steeped for less time and also how the decaf version does.
But I think I kind of have to side with the BF on the thought that peach doesn’t really need ginger, and on balance I prefer a really good single fruit flavored black tea of the peachy variety.
Sipdown no. 153 of the year 2014.
I think I have figured out what Harney tea this reminds me of. Ready?
And here’s the really amusing thing. I see that I rated this and Queen Catherine the same without realizing at the time what the comparison was.
I had the kids do a sniff test of what was left in this sample bag against what was in the Queen Catherine sample. They both said this one smelled more “green.”
For my 900th tasting note, I thought I’d taste a tea I haven’t tried before.
When I look at my tea stash, it’s pretty clear that most of what I have is black tea or oolong. I have far fewer green teas and fruit or herbals. I may have more white tea than I do green tea. I don’t know whether this accurately reflects the mix of what I bought, but I think not. I do love black tea, but I can’t drink it much after 1 in the afternoon, and I love oolongs, but I don’t always have time to do them justice, so I don’t drink them as much. Greens, whites and herbals/fruits are probably the ones I drink more often because of time of day considerations, but I also think I just bought fewer of them.
In any case, I have a lot of Todd & Holland samples, many of which are black teas. This is one of them. It’s malty-smoky in the package with surprisingly light colored green leaves. The liquor color is a dark sienna color and clear, quite lovely. It has a sweet, malty aroma with berry and chocolate notes.
The taste isn’t as sweet as the aroma, and there is a bit of smoke in the flavor but it isn’t strong. Like the aroma, the flavor has a maltiness and both fruity and chocolate notes. The fruit note is something on the order of blackberry or rasperry, or perhaps black cherry, and the chocolate is a lighter, mild note suggestive of milk chocolate.
It’s very tasty and it has a lot of “personality.” I can’t quite figure out whether I’ve tasted something similar in a Harney Blend, or whether it was some other tea company, but the flavor is familiar.
Am I the only person who finds it almost impossible to keep track of all the black tea blends I like, particularly over long stretches of time?
Flavors: Berries, Chocolate, Malt