Not all noses are created equal. For Hoda Paripoush, the Founder and Creative Director at Sloane’s Fine Tea Merchants, an uncanny sense of smell lead her down a path that aligned with her obsession with scents to a sincere love of tea.
Scents, and to a larger extent, sensory experiences, are the cornerstone of Hoda’s business as a Tea sommelier and expert blender. She has come to understand tea as something of a ritual, something around which people gather and commune:
“As a family, tea was always consumed at the beginning of the day, and it was always the last beverage of the night. No matter how hectic the day was, we always welcomed the morning with tea. It was the time of the day where parents, friends, and siblings would gather. We’ve always had tea together - A ritual that never was missed. Of course, the children might have taken their tea differently, but they were welcomed into that ritual. It was something that was prevalent from the very beginning. One of my first memories actually.”
Hoda attributes the soulful quality of tea in her life to the stability it brought her as a family. It was a ritual that persisted through their moves from Iran to India, and Canada, and despite everyone’s busy schedule trying to survive, it was a ritual that never was missed. She says drinking tea, like water, is essential, that if she goes without, she feels that something is amiss. Tea has been the bearer of stability, an anchor through the different stages of her early life, academics, and she has made it her life’s work. Tea, for Hoda, is the common denominator, it defies time, age, and wherever her family was at in their lives.
And that is lucky for us because Hoda blends with a delicate hand and a passionate heart. The work of someone who truly loves their craft. Before she founded Sloane’s Tea, Hoda went to study perfumery in Grasse, in the South East of France, where they form the reputed Maîtres Nez. They compose the fragrances for the great Perfumery Houses in Europe. It is said that Grasse’s perfume industry is over three centuries old. The local industry is currently seeking recognition from UNESCO as Living Heritage. Here, agricultural practices are handed down from father to sons and in-laws. The savoir-faire is earned in the field, and transmitted from one generation to another. The art of making the perfect smelling flower, a rose that is balanced and sweet, the May rose in full bloom.
Hoda shares the farmer’s of Grasse’s dedication to quality products, taking the time to visit the plantations where she buys her tea. For the transformation of goods market, you could argue that many young entrepreneurs value the relationships that they are building with their international partners.
“In terms of how we source the gardens and farms that we work with, we believe in the importance of transparency, and so my visits and my presence at the farms are more so than anything to build relationships, and once then once we have those relationships, because many of them date back to over a decade, it is to maintain them. Tea, as a product of nature, is heavily dependent on what happens in terms of humidity, droughts, there are so many variables that are out of our control, but one thing that we will always be sure of is the philosophy behind the how farmers want their estates to operate. That mindset and these relationships we’ve built are, I know, the most important thing. Because we share the same belief on ethics and best practices for production, I can be assured that regardless of what happens in nature, the results will always be the to everyone’s standard.“
Many of the farmers that Hoda works with seldom get the opportunity to see what happens to the tea after it leaves the country. Hoda says many of the farmers she works with have come to visit them, and that she is proud to be able to show them someone in a cafe or a hotel enjoying their tea. Being on the production side, this isn’t common for them. Hoda says that when they see the respect and how much appreciation we have for their product, that they fill up with pride at the confirmation of the quality of their shared standards.