Todd & Holland

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82
drank Mango Sorbet by Todd & Holland
1387 tasting notes

This is another blend full of fruit chunks.

In the packet, the smell is kind of bitter. It’s a citrus rindy smell, with some sweeter notes of pineapple and mango.

The tisane has a cloudy yellow color that leans toward orange. It smells first of orange/tangerine, then of mango, then of something more generically fruity.

Fortunately, the taste isn’t nearly as bitter as the dry mix smell, though it has a slight downturn at the end of the sip. The mango is to the front, and in the center as well, with orange and pineapple at the back.

It’s pretty good for a mango tisane. Many of them don’t really live up to the name, as the mango is more in the background.

I even sort of get the sorbet appellation, as there’s something vaguely creamy about the flavor.

Flavors: Citrus, Mango

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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82

Sipdown no. 27 of 2018 (no. 383 total). A sample.

Hot diggity! I have three sipdowns to record back to back.

The first is this one, which remains a decent, primarily cinnamon spiced tea. I’m not sure it tips the scale over the Harney version or others, such as Art of Tea’s version, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

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82

One of the last, if not the last, as yet untasted Todd & Holland black tea samples. I think I found them all. At one point I had all my sample packets lined up in rows in shoebox sized plastic containers, but I liberated those to store my unrefrigerated Nutrisystem food. When I did that, the packets mixed in with the rest of my tea stash in an unhelpfully disorganized way. I thought I’d found them all, then found this. It’s possible there’s a straggler out there somewhere.

In the packet, the tea smells mostly of cinnamon with a little orange around the edges. The cinnamon is strong — almost eyewateringly so — and reminds me of red hots, or cinnamon toothpicks.

Cinnamon, clove, orange… it’s the Constant Comment flavor profile in the ingredients, essentially. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a soft spot for Constant Comment. The difference here is the flavor balance. I can’t really smell or taste the clove, and I can smell the orange but I can’t really taste it.

It makes a rust-colored, clear liquor that smells strongly of cinnamon. With the heat of the water, it’s less like red hots and more like a cinnamon roll.

The flavor is surprisingly sweet, sweeter than I would have anticipated from the aroma.

This is basically the Todd & Holland version of Harney’s Hot Cinnamon Spice. I haven’t had that in a while, but reading my description of it in an old tasting note, that’s pretty much the same flavor I’m tasting here. Sweet-hot cinnamon.

Harney’s gets points for being direct about it in the name, but this is a good cinnamon tea. It’s a little less hefty than I remembered the Harney being, which can be good or bad depending on one’s mood at the moment.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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77

Sipdown no. 20 of 2018 (no. 376 total). A sample.

The last of the very hearty niche tea that I broke open last weekend.

Gotta get my eyes open — I’m hoping to exercise before setting up my screaming new computer later this afternoon. There’s a local guy I’ve viewed as my personal IT guy for about 15 years now, and he’s coming over at 1. Yay!

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77

Another Todd & Holland unopened sample. I am almost to the end of the black tea sample packets, not only of Todd & Holland, but of other companies as well.

This may not be exactly the tea for this entry. Mine is called Satrupa Estate Gold Tip Spring Reserve. But rather than create another entry for something that may or may not be the same tea, I’m logging it here anyway.

The dry tea has a strong, coffee-like smell with a sharp note.

The word that comes to mind here is hearty. Hearty smell, hearty look, hearty taste. It’s hearty in the same way beef stew is — it feels like it would put meat on your bones.

The aroma is sweet and malty, with a molasses note. But it’s also got something I’d describe as grape or wine-like. Not a high sharp, note as with a darjeeling, but a low, dare I say it, HEARTY note, like a full bodied red wine. The tea is clear and a dark reddish brown.

It manages to be hearty without being heavy, which is more than just a difference of a few letters.

There is a cooling after effect in the mouth, though it’s not without an occasional throat grab. If I keep the tea forward in my mouth before swallowing, I seem to be able to avoid the throat grab.

I can’t really imagine drinking this in hot weather, like I don’t really think of picking beef stew in the summer. But then again, something tells me this would make a pretty solid iced tea.

It’s a conundrum because I like it, but it feels like a bit of a niche tea to me. It’s an evening gown or a tux, rather than a black dress you can dress up or dress down. And like an evening gown or tux, I could see drinking it on occasion, which limits its appeal to me.

Not sure how to rate it. I’d say in terms of taste it’s in the mid-80s, but I’m not rating it that high because: niche.

Flavors: Coffee, Grapes, Malt, Molasses, Red Wine

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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83

Sipdown no. 5 of 2018 (no. 361 total). A sample.

This is a backlog from two days ago while the site was down.

Following food, the notes are less minerally and somewhat smoky instead. Interesting. Bumping the rating some.

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83

No info about this available on the T&H web site as they no longer offer this. But even more puzzling, I googled Gilapukri Estate and very little came up. It does appear that this is one of the ingredients in the Todd & Holland Assam Heritage Blend. It’s a never before opened sample.

An interesting, green note to the dry leaf aroma. The steeped tea has a mineral note. Stones from one side, raw potato from another. And yet there’s also something sweet, a little like molasses. And something vaguely floral. The tea is clear and deep red, like the darkest part of a cut garnet stone.

The complexity of the aroma also characterizes the flavor. It has a little sourness, a bitter edge, but its additive rather than reductive. The body is lighter than I would have expected, and there’s no malt here, nor are there any chocolate notes that I can taste. There’s a sharpness to the flavor, and an unfortunate throat grab.

Hard to decide how to rate this one. It gets points for being interesting, but it’s not what I usually think of when I think of what makes Assam appealing and I could do without the throat grab.

Flavors: Floral, Mineral, Molasses, Potato, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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90
drank Abbot's Blend by Todd & Holland
1387 tasting notes

Another never before opened sample.

Do abbots drink a lot of tea? I’m pretty sure I have seen other tea blend names before that sound like something related to a monastery.

According to the packet, it not only has Darjeeling and Keemun, but also Assam and Nilgiri teas. It has a cocoa and malt note in the packet.

Which is pretty much the aroma of the steeped tea as well, with a lovely garnet colored clear liquor.

After tasting I wonder whether some of the knot I experienced yesterday may actually have been a burn, from drinking tea that was too hot the day before yesterday. Anyway, this tastes really awesome! The flavor is strong, and the tea is full bodied, but it’s smooth and not a stomach churner. It doesn’t have the sort of piquant high note that darjeelings often do, but it does have a smoky cocoa flavor in the finish that is just lovely.

Putting it on the wish list.

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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89

This is a sample I had opened a while back and must have tasted, but could find no notes about.

In the packet, the dry tea has a little bit of a spice to the smell. A bit like a gingerbread cookie but not nearly as sweet. My first thought was cinnamon, but it’s not really that. It’s not a precise smell, more of a general one.

The aroma of the steeped tea is smooth and silky, and has a richness to it though it isn’t heavy. That same character carries over into the flavor, which is malty with a cocoa note.

It’s an interesting combination of characteristics. It’s medium-light bodied but gives the impression of richness nevertheless. It’s smooth, but also has a perkiness. There’s a lingering spiciness on the tongue after the sip.

Really lovely tea to have with breakfast this morning. Goes well with eggs/sausage and also yogurt.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cocoa, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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70

Sipdown no. 69 of 2017 (no. 350 total). A sample.

I realize I started pretty late in the year, but I was sort of thinking I might hit 100 sipdowns for the year until I realized what I was thinking wasn’t end of year so much as end of winter break. I think I have a shot at 31 more sipdowns between now and January 8 as I have a lot of partly consumed samples among other things. But we’ll see. This is the first of what’s likely to be either 3 or 4 today. So there’s that.

It remains OK but not stellar.

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70

Mystery tea! No info is available about this anywhere that I can find.

It’s one of the Todd & Holland black tea samples I ended up with, never before opened.

My guess is it is a darjeeling. A little because the dry leaves are big, coarse, and squiggly and a lot because if I plug in Wonder Tea to the Steepster search, a lot of darjeelings come up.

The leaves are browner than I tend to think of darjeeling leaves as being, but they have some big silver tips.

It steeps very light in color. Amber, or gold. It smells almost like a dark oolong, a sort of toasty, woody smell, but Todd & Holland says it’s a black tea.

It’s ok. I suppose I’m a little down on it because with a name like Wonder, I expected to be blown away. Or maybe I would have liked it better if I knew what it was and steeped it accordingly. Whatever. Maybe it will grow on me.

Flavors: Toasty, Wood

Preparation
2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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59

Sipdown no. 65 of 2017 (no. 346 total). A sample.

Not a favorite, and now it’s gone.

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59

I admit that I’ve been holding onto this sample because it baffled me. I cracked it open this morning.

Pretty sure I have not had Japanese black tea before. Silly me, I didn’t even know black tea was produced in Japan. I’m not sure I picked this sample — it may have been part of a black tea sampler grouping.

In the packet, the tea has a metallic, mineral note. This must be the “slight stone aroma.”

The note is still present in the steeped tea’s aroma, but there’s more to it. There’s a bready note as well. The tea has a lighter and redder color than black teas from China and India.

Now that I taste it, I believe I’ve had something like this before in a blend of some kind. I know I’ve had black teas that I described as having the flavor. I had to google my notes to find an example: Tavalon Earl Grey Reserve. Disappointingly, one of my notes on that tea is not accessible — I click on the “1 more” and it takes me back to the main page.

In any case, I get the same flavor from this that I did from that (minus the bergamot), and I didn’t love that. Nor do I care for this one. It shall be sipped down sooner rather than later.

Merry Christmas to those celebrating.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Metallic, Mineral, Potato, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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82

Sipdown no. 14 of 2018 (no. 370 total). A sample.

So now I have a sipdown conundrum. How to count sipdowns of the same tea? (That doesn’t apply here — I only have one of these, but I recently sipped down a sample size of another tea I had tasted a sample of and re-sampled). I think I’ve decided not to count those as sipdowns, but to count full sized containers of staples as sipdowns. Note to self: do that.

First full week back at work after the winter break, and it was tiring to get back on schedule and back in the groove, but now we have MLK day this Monday as an extra treat. The fam may go on an outing for a couple of days. We haven’t decided yet but I’m crossing fingers. Last time we planned to go away for a few days we didn’t go, so who knows.

Anyway, this is a tasty Ceylon for the first tea of the morning. Nothing to add to previous note.

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82

This is a sample that I must have tried at one point because it was open. But I couldn’t find a note on it, or indeed, even an entry for it on Steepster. I had to make one.

The scent in the packet is of sweet earth and trees. After steeping a lovely bready aroma comes forth. There’s a citrus note that strikes me as orange and a deeper, peachy undercurrent. It’s medium-full bodied and fairly smooth, though brisk, in taste. I did get a bit of a grab in the throat on a couple of sips. Most of the notes I smelled aren’t coming through to me in the taste, except for the malty bit.

It’s a good, robust Ceylon.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Earth, Malt, Orange, Peach

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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87
drank Cream Assam by Todd & Holland
1387 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 71 of 2017 (no. 352 total). A sample.

No. 1 liked this one quite a bit as well. Putting it on the wish list, though I don’t know if I’ll place another Todd & Holland order soon. I liked quite a few of their fruit blends and herbals but having acquired full sizes of those I’m set for a while. Also, in general I find their true teas good, but not off the charts.

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87
drank Cream Assam by Todd & Holland
1387 tasting notes

I didn’t realize this was a flavored tea when I broke out the sample this morning. I somehow thought the “cream” was a commentary on the tea rather than a flavor descriptor. Doh!

I guess what should have given it away was the smell of the dry leaves, which is decidedly apricot. Still, that’s not cream, so maybe not.

The cream does come out in the steeping. The aroma is of vanilla cream, though the apricot note is still there as well. The tea is a gorgeous garnet color.

The flavor is gently, subtly, creamy and fruity. A nice, gradual slide into wakefulness to start the day.

Flavors: Apricot, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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82

Sipdown no. 7 of 2018 (no. 363 total). A sample.

I tried another Margaret’s Hope sample yesterday from ATR, so I thought it would be fun to sip them down back to back. I adjusted the steeping parameters this morning to the same as those for the ATR — 200F for 4 minutes.

This time around, I got the sharp note I didn’t get the first time and I wonder whether that has to do with the air interacting with the sample? Is it possible that the tea is less sharp when it first comes out of the sealed container, but that interaction with air brings out the sharpness?

Or could it be just how my body is on a given day — what I’ve eaten, etc.

I don’t know, but this time around, this one was much more like what I associate with a second flush darjeeling. Winey, with a sharpness and an earthiness in the sip.

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82

This is another sealed sample that I decided to crack open. I am sure I’ve tasted a Margaret’s Hope darjeeling before but I can’t find any evidence in my notes that I have. It would be so great to be able to do a keyword search on your own notes. Or even to be able to search for your own name for notes across Steepster, along with other keywords. I know I’ve suggested this before…

I’ve been noticing recently that darjeeling gets mentioned in the context of tea on television and in movies a fair amount. I wonder if it’s because the word darjeeling has a great sound and is sort of fun to say?

This one is pretty mellow. With all the darjeelings I’ve had recently I’ve remarked on the lack of sharp notes, which is sort of making me wonder whether I dreamed the sharp notes from years ago. I don’t think I did, because the memory is too strong. This one tastes a bit like a tea that could have had a sharp note that got filed off somehow.

There’s definitely a difference between the first flush of yesterday and this one. Part of it may be terroir, but I think the difference between the first and second flush tastes for me goes beyond that. Second flush tastes more like a standard tea; first flush has a fuller, rounder, more buttery flavor and a more filling body. I always feel full after drinking first flush darjeeling.

The tea’s color is clear orange-brown, coppery and crisply clear. The aroma has fruity notes and a bit of caramel and honey. The flavor has those notes, too. It approaches sharp but then backs away. It’s not filling, but it’s also not overly drying and it has a pleasant, fresh aftertaste.

Flavors: Caramel, Fruity, Honey

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Indigobloom

Sometimes I google my steepster name,the tea name, and “steepster”. Depending on the tea, it’s about 60% effective, I find. Easier with the more unique tea names tho

__Morgana__

Yeah, I think I’ve done that in the past with varying degrees of luck, too.

Fjellrev

Yeah, it would be so convenient to be able to access prior notes with a quick search rather than also having to thumb through pages and pages on the review page in order to find yours.

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79
drank Decaf Assam by Todd & Holland
1387 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 45 of 2017 (no. 326 total). A sample.

Hint: drinking with food reduces the papery aspect.

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79
drank Decaf Assam by Todd & Holland
1387 tasting notes

I must have tried this a while back and never written about it. It’s a sample that I’d opened but can’t find a note about.

It’s actually really nice to be able to drink a black tea on a dark, chilly evening and not have to worry about the caffeine. I have given decafs short shrift in the past, but I suspect that’s about to change.

There’s no denying that decaf anything tastes “less than” the caffeinated equivalents. There’s a shallowness to this that I wouldn’t excuse were it caffeinated. The aroma is nice and full, leafy and malty, but the taste feels squeezed of its oomph with a sort of a papery note that I find in a lot of decafs, whether they be coffee or tea.

That said, I can almost forgive it just because it means black tea after dinner without the wakefulness. And there’s no Assam throat grab.

Flavors: Malt, Paper

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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78

Sipdown no. 3 of 2018 (no. 359 total). A sample.

Enjoyable on a stay-cation morning. I have big plans for the day, but somehow I have a feeling nothing will get done. But that’s ok, too.

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78

This is a sample of a tea no longer available at the Todd & Holland site.

There’s been a method to my tea selection madness of late. On weekends, I’ve been cracking open a couple of untried green teas to taste and write notes about, so that I can have green tea available to take to work during the week without the pressure of writing notes other than sipdown recordings.

But right now I have enough green tea recorded to last for a while and it’s a short week because of the holiday, so I decided that this Thanksgiving holiday I’d do black tea instead of coffee in the morning and I’d crack open some new ones to write about (as well as try to get some sipped down).

This is a one of those “new ones” — a sample I’ve had for a while but that’s never been opened, is vacuum sealed and has been stored in a cool, dry, place out of direct sunlight.

It has been a while since I had a Ceylon and I forgot how much I like them. This one is right out of the dictionary definition. The earthy smell to the small dark leaves before steeping, the clear, cherry wood red liquor, the sweet, malty aroma that reminds me of Nestea dry mix — only obviously so much richer and much better.

The flavor, too, is quintessentially tea-like. Nestea again comes to mind, as does Lipton, but only as a benchmark of teaness for a person raised in a culture where coffee is the national hot beverage. There’s an astringency to the tea, a briskness to the mouthfeel, with that slightly bitter edge that sits on the tip of the tongue after the tea has been swallowed. The aftertaste mellows out into a sweet one that paradoxically has a cooling and freshening effect. There’s a tiny bit of throat grab, but it isn’t so severe as to mar the experience. There are some chocolate notes and a general impression of trees in the sip.

It has been so long that I can’t honestly compare this to other Ceylons I’ve had without making shit up. I think I’ve probably had others that were a bit smoother and not so astringent, which knowing me, I would probably have preferred.

But this is quite enjoyable as the first tea on a Thanksgiving morning.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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60

Sipdown no. 26 of 2017 (no. 307 total). A sample.

It did ok on its one and only assignment at work, though since there was only enough for half a Timolino, I supplemented with a sencha. Nothing to add beyond my previous note.

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