It’s teatime, but where can we go in Toronto’s café society? Holt Renfrew has the answer.
Recently the esteemed Sloane Fine Tea Merchants introduced a new product line. Where better to launch it than at the Holts Café? Tea service is a time-honoured tradition that is both a luxury and a healthy time-out. From the moment we sit down and commit to unwinding, we are immediately sensitized to appreciate the details in the presentation of confections, the fine chinaware, and the delicate purity of each blend of tea.
Tea sandwiches and mini tartines include smoked salmon and lemon cream cheese, cucumber and crème, chicken truffle, and caprese. Sweets are a decadent showcase of macarons, calissous, passion fruit éclairs, chocolate bon bons and chocolate fudge. Buttermilk scones are warm and fresh, and enlivened by Kitten and the Bear’s vibrant confiture of strawberry, raspberry and crème; blackberry, plum and violet; and orange and honeyed whiskey. Oh, and did I mention, that the Poilâne bread is flown in from Paris?
The star, of course, is the tea. Surrounded by rich flavours, the tea has to be able to stand on its own. It does. Sloane’s tea selection is a potpourri of handpicked seasonal ingredients. The Holts Blend of Ceylon and Assam black teas is a smooth blending of Brazilian cocoa and currants with rose pedals sourced from Jaipur for their potent perfume. Heavenly Crème has a rich creamy mouth feel of long leaf Ceylon blended with bergamot and vanilla. The extent of my experience with Jasmine tea is at Chinese restaurants, and it’s often been reminiscent of soap. However, I’ve apparently never tasted high quality jasmine, because Sloane Tea’s Jasmine Snow Dragon is simply beautiful in its potency and smoothness maintained from nose to palate. Tender green tea leaves are gently steamed, individually wrapped around bamboo slivers and scented with jasmine blossoms for an intoxicating calmness. With each sip these teas melt away stress. We taste the care and the attention to purity, quality of ingredients, and the thought involved in blending and sourcing.
Before creating this Canadian premium tea company, Sloane Tea director and certified tea sommelier, Hoda Paripoush was involved in naturopathic medicine and in perfumery. Tea is a natural fusion of the two from which Paripoush has become a veritable alchemist. Paying attention to the top, heart and base notes, she devotes care to how tea flows on the palate, and to ensuring the ingredients she selects from around the world are of the highest quality for her blends. Leaving no stone left unturned, the packaging, too, is uniquely pretty in its design; sophisticated and fun. It is also instructive on how to prepare each distinct tea, as well as how to pair or garnish it for the utmost enjoyment. “It’s how I express the world”, says Paripoush. “We taste with our noses.”
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.