1685 Tasting Notes


Another Todd & Holland tea that I can’t get the URL for the picture to show up for.

Let’s try it this way: https://todd-holland.com/collections/china-green/products/yellow-meadow-village

I wonder if the meadow is really yellow? There are a couple of golden leaves in the sample packet. They’re long and thin and twig like. The inside of the packet smells like earth. The steeped tea isn’t yellow, really. Maybe a very very pale yellow approaching off white.

I’m not sure I’d call the flavor robust, but then I didn’t use a heaping teaspoon per the directions. Perhaps I need more leaf. Also, drinking it on the heels of the gunpowder makes it taste less than by comparison.

I’d call it brisk, clean, light, and refreshing. It has a brothy, vegetal aroma and flavor, but not so brothy as to be heavy. I get a hint of green peas in the flavor.

I’m looking forward to tasting it again when I don’t have the memory of gunpowder on my tongue. Not rating for now.

Flavors: Peas, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Tea masters often name their teas after nice places. :))

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Oddly, no matter what I do, I can’t get the link for the picture of this from the Todd & Holland site to show up in the tea description. Which is a shame because it’s gorgeous. It looks almost like a white jasmine pearl. Tightly rolled ampersands, dark green with silver streaks.

This was a strange choice for me today. For the past week or so, the air around me has smelled charred and smoky. It’s the effect of the fires in Napa and Sonoma. Last Monday and Tuesday, the air was hazy and the school district sent out email saying they were keeping the kids inside. No. 2 reported that one of his classmates suffered an asthma attack.

I’m not a fan of smoke in my lungs, generally. I gave that up in the mid-1990s. But a hint of smoke and sometimes even more of a hint can be quite tasty in food and drink.

In the packet, this has a sort of sweet-smoky scent. The tea’s aroma reminds me of the whiff you get right before eating roasted zucchini or red peppers (not a flavor choice on Steepster, so I picked green) — the kind salad bars serve with the black grill marks through them like a badge of honor and slight charring around the edges. It also has a sweetness to it, a kind of vegetable-caramelized smell.

The flavor is much greener and grassier than most Chinese greens I’ve had, with a smoky edge. As grassiness tends to be more of a Japanese green feature, I find this interesting.

I’m a little surprised that the roasted vegetable smell isn’t really present in the taste. I’m also wondering what “Tribute” in the name means. As in, is this intended to be a “Tribute” to “Gunpowder” tea, like a tribute band. Or is it a conflation of the gunpowder appellation with “tribute tea”? I think the latter. Googling reveals that a famous gunpowder, Hui Bai, was made exclusively for the emperor.

It’s a good tea, and I probably will enjoy it more when the air around here clears.

Flavors: Grass, Green, Green Bell Peppers, Smoke, Vegetal, Zucchini

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Well, I didn’t get a bright flourescent green, and I steeped exactly according to the directions. I got more of a pale chartreuse.

Even so, I quite enjoyed this. On the surface it seems like sencha’s sencha. Sort of the Aristotelian essence of sencha. But it has some eccentricities.

For one thing, in the packet it smells spicy! I can’t really place the spice. At first, I thought it was ginger. Maybe it is. In any case, it’s a sweet spiciness that is unusual, over a rather usual grassy fragrance.

That mellows out in the steeping, and pretty much disappears. What’s left is a sort of an edamame smell. This is present in the flavor, as is a sort of a sea-like, or sea-weed smell.

I have never been to Japan, but I associate both edamame and seaweed with Japan. So this tastes like Japan to me, or at least my mental image of Japan.


Rating it rather high, but docking some points because I really wanted to see the fluorescent green.

Flavors: Seaweed, Soybean

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I was just drinking two teas that were really bright green.

The irony is that the best tea didn’t brew up green. I think to some extent the amount of particulates in the tea will effect that. Which is why I wanted to sift some of it. To remove them.


I’ve actually had teas that were really bright before, so luridly green I thought a geiger counter might have been wise.


It didn’t send my comment. I was actually drinking one as I typed that. :))

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Sipdown no. 12 of 2017 (no. 293 total). A sample.

It’s not that great a cause for celebration because as I mentioned, I have two sample packets of this and I’ve only sipped down one.

This has, indeed, been accompanying me to work this past week and it was a solid candidate for the job. Especially in a week where I ended up having to spend 3 hours in the DMV for a stupid reason. Ugh.

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I have two sample packets of this, neither opened.

The description makes this sound like it’s essentially sencha without the step that turns the leaf into needle shapes. That sounds about right; everything else about it is very sencha like, but the dry leaf is coarse-looking compared to the baby hair fine leaves sencha often has.

The flavor is green but not in a grassy way, and not vegetal at all. There’s a hint of seaweed in the steeped tea’s flavor and something mildly and faintly floral in the aroma. It’s pale yellow in color.

Another nicely unobtrusive green that will make a good backdrop for the working day.

Flavors: Floral, Green, Seaweed

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Sencha Arihara by The Tea Table
1685 tasting notes

Oh wow. This is my 1200th tasting note! It only took eight years…

The description the company gives is “round.” That’s not the word that comes to mind for me, but this is definitely an unusual sencha. There’s a dewy sweetness to the aroma, honey-like, which has a hay note that’s apparent in the dry leaf but not so much in the steeped tea.

The flavor is also quite unusual. It’s not grassy or vegetal so much as it is very subtly sweet and a little tangy. It doesn’t really taste like any tea I’ve had before. It makes me think of bees and pollen. It’s extremely pleasant (which is why it gets a high rating).

About the only thing that’s usual about this is it’s color, which is the golden straw color described on the packet.

Flavors: Hay, Honey, Nectar, Sweet, Tangy

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 500 OZ / 14786 ML

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Sipdown no. 11 of 2017 (no. 292 total). A sample.

Today was so crazy at work I barely noticed this, which is unfortunate as I quite like it. But then again, sometimes it’s nice to have teas that aren’t high maintenance.

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Sipdown no. 10 of 2017 (no. 291 total). A sample.

The thing about the Todd & Holland samples is they don’t make an even number of cups. Usually they make about 5 and since the Breville makes a minimum of 2 at a time, I have had to double up the last spoon with some other variety of sencha. The last couple of times it has been the Den’s Sencha Zuiko.

These are sort of the opposite of each other. What we do for sipdowns.

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Sipdown no. 9 of 2017 (no. 290 total). A sample.

Okay, I’m cheating a little — I am planning to have the very last bit of this tomorrow to take to work, but I won’t have time to record it then. I feel 99 percent confident that it will be a sipdown tomorrow, though, because I’ve already got it in the Breville, primed to be steeped in the morning.

My first note on this one is only a few days old, and I expect there’s not a lot I’ll have to add to that one.

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This is a sample I’ve tasted before but apparently never written about. It’s no longer showing as available on the Todd & Holland web site.

What I like most about this is the aftertaste. It’s fresh, clean. It’s like what Clorets should make your mouth feel like but doesn’t. A green freshness that makes me think of chlorophyll.

The tea itself is a pale golden yellow and clear, and it has an aroma that could be hay or could be sweet grass. It tastes a little less sweet than it smells, with a briskness to the mouthfeel that adds to impression of freshness in the aftertaste.

It’s enjoyable, but not really distinctive. Then again, I don’t think my palate is sophisticated enough to discern the differences in senchas except in very broad strokes. I can distinguish grassy from vegetal and sweet from savory, and I can sometimes identify the taste of specific vegetables in the vegetal ones. Beyond that, I get a bit lost.

Flavors: Hay, Sweet, warm grass

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became less appealing to me — but I still enjoy nicely done blends where the base doesn’t taste like hamster cage chips. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation. These days, I’ve been drinking primarily green tea during weekdays after my first cup of coffee. On weekends, I’ve been drinking only tea.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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