Todd & Holland

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Recent 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

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

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

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75

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

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

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80

Sipdown no. 15 of 2017 (no. 295 total). A sample.

Didn’t really notice the spiciness on this last experience of this tea, but that’s because I had a busy day at work and didn’t really focus on how this tasted. I just let it be there for me.

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80

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.

Cool.

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

Flavors: Seaweed, Soybean

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

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.

__Morgana__

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

MrQuackers

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

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82

Sipdown no. 13 of 2017 (no. 293 total). The second sample packet.

Heading into a whirlwind week at work and this one is starting me off gently.

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82

Sipdown no. 12 of 2017 (no. 292 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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82

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

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

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78

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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78

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

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

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83

Sipdown no. 11 of 2017 (no. 291 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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83

This is a sample that has been hermetically sealed since I got it. The dry leaves look pretty much like what you see in the picture, but what’s interesting is the way they smell. They have a sort of toasty greenness to them that’s unusual.

The tea is greenish-gold and clear, and it has a buttery, vegetal aroma that’s a bit like asparagus.

The flavor is similar to the aroma. It’s richer than that of many greens, and quite pleasant. If the Todd & Holland Japanese green teas make refreshing teas for work, this Chinese one seems better suited to a relaxing evening environment. Still, I’ll probably drink it at work, since that’s where I am most of the day.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Vegetal

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

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81

Sipdown no. 8 of 2017 (no. 289 total). A sample.

It was indeed a nice take-it-to-work tea while it lasted. Soothing to sip, but unobtrusive.

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81

This is a sample I tried once before but never wrote about.

In the packet, the leaves are twiggy, vari-colored green ranging from forest to silver. It smells like sweet hay. The aroma of the steeped tea is only slightly less sweet.

It’s a yellow-gold color with a bit of a haze to the liquor.

The flavor is delicate, grassy, sweet, and even has a tinge of butter to it with a slightly bitter (but pleasantly so) finish.

Refreshing, but calming. Flavorful, but in a subtle way. It will make a good work tea because it doesn’t call attention to itself.

Flavors: Hot hay, Sweet, warm grass

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 0 OZ / 5 ML

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83

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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83

Todd & Holland doesn’t have this on their page anymore, so I can’t provide a picture or a description from them for this entry. This is a sample I got a while back. It was sealed up and never opened and has been in a cool dry place since I got it, which may be why it has preserved its aroma and flavor.

The dry leaves are quite beautiful. Deep, rich green, with a very fine, silky, soft-looking texture. In the packet there’s a juicy “green” smell, somewhere between grass and vegetable.

The tea is a medium yellow, sort of a light gold, and clear. The aroma is of warm, sweet grass.

In trying to describe the taste, I find myself thinking in synesthetic terms. The tea tastes golden, not silver, by which I mean it’s a warm taste rather than a fresh one. It’s a snuggly flavor. Very pleasant, but delicate to the point where it is probably best drunk alone. Strong flavors in food, such as marinara would not pair well here.

It’s too bad that it’s no longer on the site. It’s a lovely tea.

Flavors: Grass, Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal

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

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85

This is currently my favorite flavored black tea. The mix of ‘cool’ herbs puts me strongly in mind of winter; if snow could have a flavor, this would be it. It works well both hot and iced.

Flavors: Mint, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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88
drank Tenryu Sencha by Todd & Holland
1208 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 69 of 2016 (no. 280 total). A sample.

Really sorry to see this one go. Not much to add to my previous note other than that I will be very sad when my Japanese greens are all gone.

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88
drank Tenryu Sencha by Todd & Holland
1208 tasting notes

I seem to have two sample packets of this, and I’m trying to open up some alternatives for my green teas to take to work so cracked open one of the samples today.

This is a surprisingly complex sencha. Often they seem to me to have a single note of grass or hay, but this one smells like rice and edamame in the packet and like all sorts of things after steeping. There’s a salt note that’s interesting, a salty flavor but without actual salt. It’s more vegetal than most senchas I’ve had, and a bit more astringent. There’s definitely a drying to the mouth in the aftersip.

It’s light yellow in color in the cup.

A very enjoyable tea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be available from Todd & Holland anymore.

Flavors: Bok Choy, Grass, Marine, Rice, Salt, Soybean

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

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87

Opened up a new sample packet of this just now. Wonderful smell in the packet. Almost chocolatey, earthy, a little bit like dark chocolate baked goods. The steeped tea aroma is smooth and a tad sweet. It’s like the standard American notion of black tea, a bit reminiscent of Lipton.

The liquor isn’t as reddish as I generally expect from Ceylons. It’s a sort of brown-orange.

The flavor is quite mellow and smooth, not what I’d call “brisk” really though there is some astringency. It has a slightly metallic note, which is interesting. And though there is a honey note, it isn’t particularly sweet in the sip.

I like this one a lot. I think it would make a great iced tea as well.

Flavors: Honey, Metallic

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

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93

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.

Christina / BooksandTea

Congrats on the new job!

OMGsrsly

Yay! Hope everything goes most excellently. :)

tigress_al

Good luck in the new job!

__Morgana__

Thanks so much, all! It feels a bit like drinking from a firehose at the moment but I’m sure it will feel less like that eventually.

OMGsrsly

Haha. Awesome description. That is exactly what a new job feels like! :D

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93

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

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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92

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

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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76
drank Sweet Dreams by Todd & Holland
1208 tasting notes

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.

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