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A Trip To The Harney & Sons Tea Store
I first discovered Harney Teas at a Bed and Breakfast my husband and I stayed at near Lakeville, CT. On our first afternoon there, the manager offered us tea in the main room. When she brought the teapot out, she also carried in a large wooden box. In it were packets of teabags in a rainbow of colors.
Looking through them was fun in itself, with choices like Paris and Hot Cinnamon Spice. And then I got to taste a cupful. After our first sips we looked at each other, eyes wide with delight. I think we both said "wow" at the same time!
The manager told us this marvelous tea was packaged locally, just one town over from where we were. There, in a small warehouse, we discovered a new world of tea.
I'd never even imagined being part of a tea tasting, but we were each invited to try samples of two blends, whichever we wanted. We walked in curious, and walked out with three tins: Moroccan Mint, Indian Spice, and Gunpowder Green. And so a new tradition of afternoon tea was born in our house!
About Harney Tea
The magic of Harney Teas started back in the 1960's with a man named John Harney. He ran an Inn in Salisbury, Connecticut at the time. He learned about another man in town named Stanley Mason, who started a tea company.
In the 1970's, Mason looked for an apprentice to help grow his company. Harney was chosen, and learned everything about the tea business, eventually becoming the head of the company.
In the 1983, Harney launched a new company, one that bore his name. Starting in Lakeville, CT, they moved their store in 2005 to their current location in Millerton, NY. Along the way, family joined in, learning the trade and expanding the company's vision.
The next year after our trip we heard the company had moved to a bigger space. We decided to take a field trip and check it out.
The town of Millerton itself is charming, with boutiques and hardware stores nestled in together within walking distance of each other. The Harney Tea store building looks like an old train station.
Harney & Sons Store Location
The Harney & Sons Store
The door we entered through opened into the tea room. In the back is a short bar, and in front were about six tables with booths and chairs lining the walls. It was an intimate space that didn't feel crowded, even full up with customers. We moved past that for the time being and walked into the next area.
The middle section of the building was devoted to shopping space. There were shelves lining the back walls - some held tins of various kinds of teas, others hold books and small gift items. Browsing there, I saw books on how to arrange a proper tea and how to actually cook with tea.
In the other space of the room sat tables laden with wonderful items: "equipment" like full tea sets and individual teapots delicately painted coasters, and several sizes of strainers. Other great gift ideas like pretty plates or napkins were on display, as well as small packages of tea bags, tied up in bows. I wanted to shop!
The last area of the building is called the tasting room. Sure enough, as we rounded the corner we saw floor to ceiling cubbies, each containing a gain tin of tea. And the other wall held more. I stood for five minutes just looking at all the names.
The barrista was waiting for us, and offered us the tea of the day to start with. After oohing about that one, we were invited as before to try two more. It was so hard to choose between so many intriguing names. But eventually I did, and thoroughly enjoyed my samples. I'm convinced I would have liked any of them.
Before we knew it we had been there over an hour and it was time to go. On our way out we stopped to look at the cafe menu. We were sorry we couldn't stay: hummus sandwiches with sprouts, creamed vegetable soups, and of course, individual pots of tea or tall glasses of iced teas like peach or black currant. On later visits we did stay for lunch, and have always left delightfully satisfied.
Now Harney & Sons also have a store in the SoHo section of New York City. It offers the same personal attention and casual elegance. Their love of tea and the desire to share not just product but knowledge shines through in both locations.
If you want to learn more about teas and how their grown and blended, the Harney & Sons website and catalogues are exhaustive resources of information. You can also find every kind of tea they sell, plus lots of gift ideas - their gift packages are sensational to look at as well as taste!