drank The des Muses by Nina's Paris
810 tasting notes

It’s Sunday Tea and Books time, people! Here we go.

The Tea

I got this as a sample from Laurent back at the end of February/ beginning of March, and have been holding onto it then – it’s been almost 6 months, and tonight was the first time I tried it.

I was expecting a blast of citrus and flowers, but the flavour in this is very subdued. I’m getting a little bit of citrus, and I can sense that it’s grapefruit, but it’s not knocking my socks off here.

I brewed this at 87C for about 2-3 minutes, using 2 tsp for 16 oz of liquid. I’ve found that those parameters have worked out pretty well for my other green tea from Nina’s, Demain, but the leaf between the two looks quite different. The leaf in The Des Muses is much longer and spindlier, looking more like a sencha.

The Book

Well, this is probably a bit of a cheat, but what can I say? If this tea is called “The Des Muses”, then I’m definitely going to compare it to one of the Greek Muses, the nine women seen as the embodiment of culture and artistic achievement in Ancient Greece. So which one will it be?

Well, since it appears that I’m not too fond of this tea, I’m going to go with Erato, the muse of lyric/love poetry. I’ve got a bit of a grudge against Erato, so why not?

Let me explain.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Greek myths. I read about the stories of Perseus and Theseus and Atalanta, and I was old enough to watch the “Hercules” and “Xena” shows when they were on TV, but young enough to watch them and take them at face value – I had no inkling of their camp value at the time.

As a result, I became a trove of trivia about figures in Greek mythology.

Now, fast-forward to an event about 4.5 years ago. At that point, I was part of a trivia league that met in pubs across the city every week on Monday nights. The scoring worked like this: each round of trivia questions had a theme, and during a round, every person on both teams had the chance to answer a single question. If the person who was asked the question answered it correctly, their team scored 2 points. If they couldn’t answer it correctly but their teammates could, the team scored 1 point. However, if nobody on one team could answer the question, the opposing team had the chance to get a “steal” and earn 1 point for themselves if they could answer the question correctly instead.

(Does this make any sense? I hope it does.)

Anyways, this one night, the round of trivia in question was about….the muses! And it appeared that among all of the people on BOTH teams, I was the only one who knew the names of the muses. So I continually saved my team by earning 1 point when each individual lost the chance to earn 2, and kept stealing points from the other team when they couldn’t answer their questions.

However, I didn’t remember the names of ALL 9 muses – I could only remember 8: Calliope, Urania, Polyhymnia, Terpischore, Melpomene, Thalia, Clio, and Euterpe. I was struggling and struggling to remember the name of the 9th muse.

And guess what happened? The ONE muse I couldn’t name was the answer of the ONE question that was posed to me specifically, thus the ONE opportunity I had to score 2 points for my team instead of a succession of 1-pointers.

That one muse I couldn’t name? You guessed it: fuckin’ Erato.

So I couldn’t answer that particular question, and NO ONE ELSE could either. Thus, that question earned a big round goose egg for all involved.

You know what the kicker was?

I gave the correct answer to every other trivia question that was posed specifically to me that night. Out of 10 rounds, I got 9 2-point questions right – my highest result ever in that particular trivia league – and the only one I got wrong was that damned question about Erato.

(Can you tell I still haven’t gotten over it yet? Fuck you, Erato. Seriously.)

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Sami Kelsh

Yeah, Erato’s a total bastard.

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Sami Kelsh

Yeah, Erato’s a total bastard.

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Updated February 2014:

I’m a writer and editor who’s fallen for loose-leaf tea hard. Within a year of joining Steepster, I’ve spent at least $500 on tea, and gotten a whole bunch in swaps! At this point I’ve got a better handle on what I like and dislike, but I’m sure that there will always be more to discover.

Likes: Green tea, sobacha, fruit flavours, masala chais, jasmine, mint, citrus, ginger, Ceylons, Chinese blacks.

Dislikes (or at least generally disinclined towards): Hibiscus, rosehip, chamomile, licorice, lavender.

Things I’m on the fence about: Oolong, vanilla (I prefer it mixed with black teas or rooibos rather than green tea), white teas.

Still need to do my research on: pu’er teas.

I rarely score teas anymore, but if I do, here’s the system I follow:

100-85: A winner!
84-70: Pretty good. This is a nice, everyday kind of tea.
69-60: Decent, but not up to snuff.
59-50: Not great. Better treated as an experiment.
49-0: I didn’t like this, and I’m going to avoid it in the future. Blech.


Toronto, ON, Canada



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