We sipped some tea with the Toronto woman who’s turning everyone over to the steeped side
Stepping inside Delysees, I immediately find the person I’m looking for, despite the bubbling crowd that’s formed inside the small King West bakery. I’ve never met Hoda Paripoush, but I can tell that’s her over right there, chatting animatedly to a group of starry-eyed event goers, each of them sipping scrumptious tea from delicate china cups.
Paripoush is the woman of the hour. We’re all here to celebrate her adored Toronto-based tea brand Sloane Fine Tea Merchants, which is officially launching its macaron collection, over which the entire city — and beyond — is already losing its mind.
I eventually manage to steal Paripoush away to introduce myself, and the young entrepreneur immediately dives into the fun sort of chitchat one reserves for their best girlfriends. In a matter of minutes, I feel as though I’m simply out for tea with someone I’ve known for a long time.
“I’m a tea hustler,” she jokes, looking sweeter than one of her tea-infused macarons in a bright pink blazer. Tea has been in her heart for a very long time, and it shows: since its conception, Sloane’s been met with wild success — success that’s blossomed from Paripoush’s passion and genuineness, both of which she’s thoroughly steeped into the brand.
You’ve probably heard of Sloane, or at least scrolled past a few breathtaking pictures of its products on Instagram. Loose leaf lovers all over the city have fallen hard for the brand, which beautifully packages its products in ornate tin containers, making it near impossible not to snap a few photos. And, of course, the teas inside are tasty enough to convert any coffee addict.
A few weeks after the launch of Sloane’s macaron collection, Paripoush and I continue our chat over the phone, and she reveals her recipe for finding entrepreneurial success in Toronto. As it turns out, all it really boils down to is following your instincts.
“Tea is in my blood, so to speak. Because my Persian parents lived in India for over a decade, and given the ritual of tea is such an innate part of Persian culture, I was surrounded by it,” says Paripoush, who was born in India but moved with her family to Brockville, Ont. when she was three. “I actually ended up going to school for naturopathic medicine here in Canada. Eventually I realized that’s not what I wanted to do with my life — so I finally listened to my calling and pursued this dream.”
And we’re glad she did. Ever since Paripoush first sparked the idea of creating Sloane, she’s been traveling the world in pursuit of finding the ingredients and techniques to craft the perfect cup of tea. By blending her own vast tea-related knowledge with all the things she learned while jet-setting, Paripoush’s brand is both proudly local and very well-travelled.
When asked what she thinks about Toronto’s tea industry, Paripoush says she’s proud and excited about how far it’s come. More than just a fad, tea has been an increasingly prominent part of the city’s culinary and lifestyle scenes over the past decade or so, and Sloane plans on keeping that trend alive and well. Tea is a healthier alternative to coffee, a cosy little journey that gives good vibes only — and it’s what people want.
That’s another success secret that Paripoush reveals to me over the phone. Listening to the city’s demands and desires is key. She’s designed Sloane in such a way that it gives tea drinkers their perfect cup, but it also gives them another thing they want desperately: transparency between consumer and brand, which she says Toronto’s businesses are getting a lot better at.
“The space between company and consumer shouldn’t be so mysterious and confusing. There shouldn’t be much of a space at all,” says Paripoush. “Toronto has made great progress in this department, and although we have a ways to go — every city has — we have indeed come a long way.”
Maybe it’s the too-pretty-for-words packaging or the fact that the flavours have us constantly coming back for more, but it looks as though Paripoush practices what she preaches: she’s listened to Toronto’s tea addicts, and she’s not only given them what they want — she’s persuaded even the skeptics to hop on the tea bandwagon.