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Couple Brings Iranian Herbs To Canadian Tea House

Maryam Sohbati and Kaveh Jafari at their tea house. 

Mocton, Canada (Huddle) – Stepping into Kaveh Jafari and Maryam Sohbati’s tea house on 575 Main St. feels like entering a scene from Alice in Wonderland. But it’s not just colourful and cute, it also offers a menu that you won’t find anywhere else in Greater Moncton.

K&M Saffron Tea House opened earlier this month, selling teas using herbs the couple has brought from their native Iran.

Think Iranian borage flowers, bitter orange flowers or tea harvested from the mountains of Iran in your cup, served with a syrup that’s flavoured with saffron, a spice commonly used in Persian dishes but a very expensive ingredient out of its native region.

Jafari, a pharmacist in his home country with an MBA from the University of Toronto, says he wants to introduce natural herbs used in Iran to Canadians; opening the tea house is the first step of that plan.

“From the very first years of university, I was interested in herbal and traditional medicine,” he said. “My business plan was to introduce herbal medicine and natural products and supplements to prevent people from getting sick because most of the time people are going to pharmacies or buying the drugs to cure their pain and disease, but I think it’s better to keep the people from getting sick.”

“We are not going to say that here is a pharmacy. We are not physicians. We are just giving the chance of drinking some tasty and natural things to the people that can help prevent them to have the same things but with artificial [ingredients],” Jafari added.

Since the herbs are not as well-known in the New Brunswick market, they decided to serve them in a more familiar format such as tea and lattes. Besides, they realized the herbs would’ve been consumed as tea in Iran anyways.

The business also offers an Iranian sweet treat called Halva, cakes, creme puffs, sandwiches, salads, milkshakes, and juices. Sohbati makes them herself, using no artificial ingredients, she said.

The sweet treats are about $3 each, while the salads and sandwiches are between $4 and $5. A small pot of tea, enough for two people, costs $5. Other drinks cost between $4 and $5.

Sohbati, who studied mathematics but later followed her passion to become an interior decorator, added many splashes of colour in the tea house. She also added a baby room for customers who have young children.

“Most of the time, here it’s winter. I try to bring spring inside,” she said of the bright decor.

Jafari and Sohbati initially came to Canada with their children in 2007 to continue their post-graduate studies in Toronto. In Tehran, Iran, Jafari ran his own pharmacy. He took the MBA program because he wanted to know more about business regulations and build a more global network.

They returned to Iran after their studies. But their daughters, growing up with good memories of Canada, wanted to return and continue their schooling here.

The family decided to move back through the investor and entrepreneur immigration stream. They decided to come to New Brunswick because of the lower cost of business and real estate. The deposit the provincial government required business immigrants to make was also among the lowest in Canada.

“It’s a good time, [a] good place to go, high potentials, low investment, let’s do it. This was in 2013,” Jafari said.

But their plan to get the business up-and-running by mid-2015 was stalled by long wait-times and difficulties getting their permanent residency status.

Once in Moncton, they also faced difficulties finding insurance providers for new businesses in the area and began to look at Ontario for options instead.

Now that the tea house is open, Jafari hopes to connect with business people who want to partner up or help him expand his business in other ways.

“If you are standalone, you cannot do business. People coming and giving a chance for some kind of cooperation and collaboration, that’s business. And we’re looking for that,” he added.

They envision bringing their herbal products to larger retailers and pharmacies. Down the line, they also want to build a manufacturing facility in Moncton to formulate products and medicines using the herbs and package them for sale in North America.

“I assume that here in Moncton is better, because it’s somehow the centrepiece of Atlantic Canada, and it’s very close to Quebec and the U.S.,” he said.

Jafari hopes his long-term plan will create jobs that will help young people stay in New Brunswick and attract newcomers.

Jafari and Sohbati are already in the process of hiring servers for their tea house as their daughters, who are helping them, will return to school at the end of the summer.

K&M Saffron Tea House is open every weekday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from 1-6 p.m. on weekends.

Llama Hotline

At the Tito minimart on Calle Choquechaka. 

I wonder

Soraya in the garden.

Paved with gold

Calle Pumacurco tonight. 

Superwoman

In Queshuachaca, south of Cusco.

Rezvani Tank X

Ferris Rezvani, CEO

CNET: Take it all in. This is the 2020 Rezvani Tank X and it's a wild SUV for an incredible amount of money.

Rezvani revealed the Tank X on Monday along with its $349,000 starting price. That figure includes a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 taken from a Dodge Challenger Demon, which we suppose somewhat makes up for the sky-high cost. The Irvine, California-based automaker has tuned the engine to make over 1,000 horsepower, according to the company's website.

Believe it or not, the Tank X starts life as a new Jeep Wrangler. From there, Rezvani carries out its typical over-the-top approach and redesigns it with new body panels that, according to the company, take cues from military vehicles. Even with military cues and over 1,000 hp, the company said it wants the Tank X to be a "daily drive."

Thus, Rezvani spent a lot of time working on the suspension. The company claims the Tank X will drive much like an off-road supercar. The system can supposedly handle the harshest terrain, but at the same time, doesn't make the cabin an awful place to be for drivers and passengers. The SUV can attribute some of its off-road credentials to its 37-inch tires, Fox Racing suspension and Dynatrac axles. There are also optional Fox Racing bypass shocks available, should you want something even more aggressive for the unbeaten path. That'll set you back an additional $12,500.

Once you've hoisted yourself into the Tank X, you'll find hand-stitched leather, a suede headliner and a 7.9-inch touchscreen for infotainment purposes. The nicer leather is also a $2,500 option, per the company's website. Things add up rather quickly when optioning a Tank X.

Bored of the luxurious add-ons and other gadgets? Don't fret, because Rezvani also offers a suite of protection features on the Tank Military Edition like an EMP protection shield to ensure all electronics work in the case of EMP blast. Apparently, Rezvani imagines owners taking their super-SUVs into some dicey areas. There's also a night vision system, ballistic armor, Kevlar armor, bulletproof glass and military-grade run-flat tires.

To be fair, the Tank does start at a price lower than $349,000, but it's an SUV meant for those with loaded checking accounts. For $155,000, buyers can place an order for a regular Tank with a 3.6-liter V6, opt for a 6.4-liter V8 and even swap in a 3.0-liter diesel V6. There's a lot of room to price various Tank models, but something like a fully loaded Tank X will easily crest $400,000 >>>

Cocktail of colors

Near San Pedro Market on Saturday.

The Iranian Teacher Who Travels the World

Rainbow Mountains, Cusco, Peru

Travel Secrets: An extraordinary 21 year old girl, Melica Bokaie from Iran started travelling just two days before her 20th birthday, and never quite stopped! We caught up with her in Canada for a quick chat.

Who is Melica Bokaie: She is a girl living her dreams! She’s been travelling and volunteering for more than 19 months. After exploring South America, she’s currently doing some good work on a small island in Western Canada.

We heard that you are a teacher as well. So how did this teacher turn into a traveller: I have always wanted to work with children—that’s what my mother does back in Iran. She is an English teacher and she has her own institute. I started working there since I was 13. I didn’t need to work but I was passionate about teaching. I studied theatre in high school and when I got my diploma, I decided to not go to University. I wanted to become a dancer and I couldn’t perform dance in my country of origin. So I started teaching in different kindergartens, working full time and saving money to travel. I’m still a teacher, but now I work worldwide.

Do you have to be rich to travel the world: Not at all. You just have to be courageous. There are thousands of ways to travel cheap and make money while being on the road. From hitchhiking to busking. From writing a blog to volunteering! If you want to do something you will find a way to do it. Money helps but it’s not the only thing you need.

Did travelling change you as a person: It sure did. I find myself more patient. I definitely became street smart and overall people say I look happier than before!

One location that took your breath away: Punta Tumbo. Three hours south of Puerto Madryn in Argentina. I spent my 21st birthday there, in Northern Patagonia, with more than one million penguins!!

How long does it take to pick up a language: It’s different for every person. It depends on how much you practice. I learned English since I was 2. And I always thought you have to go to classes and study a language to be able to speak fluently. But I was travelling around South America, living with people who couldn’t speak even a word of English, and I had to communicate with them. It took me 3 months to get used to hearing Spanish, 6 months to speak some basic words and around 14 months to communicate at an intermediate level! I heard Spanish more than 12 hours a day and I tried quite hard to learn the grammar but it was possible without any classes and only by talking to people. That’s me, it may take less or more time for others.

A strange encounter with a local: I was hitchhiking in Chile, and a couple picked me up. They asked where I’m from and I answered Iran. The girl said” Que es Iran”? “What is Iran?” !!! I started explaining and showing her the map! And she said, she thought Iran and Iraq are the same and there are huge deserts!!! That is the most strange thing I’ve ever heard about Iran! >>>

Flower girl

Outside San Pedro Market. 

Zahra Karinshak Running for Congress

Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, PAAIA: Georgia State Senator Zahra Karinshak has announced her candidacy for Georgia’s 7th congressional district in the upcoming 2020 elections.

If successful, Zahra will be the first Iranian American to serve in the United States Congress and the highest-ranking Iranian American elected to public office. Zahra Karinshak currently serves in the Georgia State Senate, where she was elected as the first Iranian American to the electoral body in 2018, beating the Republican incumbent.

“The time is now,” said Zahra. “We cannot wait to fix Washington. There is so much partisanship and bickering that we need true leadership. I’m going to hold Washington accountable.”

Zahra (Sheikholeslam) Karinshak graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1989, placing her in the 9th class to accept women.  Zahra was the top graduate from intelligence school with the highest academic average in the course’s history. Upon graduation, she served as an intelligence officer during the first Gulf War and then returned home to attend Emory University School of Law. 

During her military service, Zahra received many awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.  As a federal prosecutor, she gained experience in conducting grand jury investigations, trials, and prosecuting cases involving fraud, public corruption, money laundering, violent crimes, child exploitation, and immigration. After 21 years of practicing law, Zahra decided to continue serving her country in a new way: as a public official.

As a Georgia State Senator, Zahra serves on a diverse range of committees including Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Natural Resources and the Environment, Special Judiciary, and Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security. Having served on these committees, Zahra has established herself as a voice for the people of Georgia and her district. As such, Zahra is running for 7th congressional district to serve as a changemaker devoted to improving her community at the federal level.

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