Artisan Teas from John Harney

Categories: Robblog

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Photo by Robb Walsh
Whereas English Breakfast Tea is usually a blend of Assam and Ceylon, with a little Keemun added to the more expensive versions, Harney & Sons English Breakfast is made with all Keemun tea. The flavor is clean and bright, with a fruity aroma. What a treat this is in the morning. I ended up drinking the last of it without any milk.

Harney & Sons is served at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston -- in fact, the St. Regis has its own blend. The Waldorf-Astoria in New York has its blend of Harney's tea as well. As Guy Streatfeild at the British Isles in Rice Village says, "It's the best tea we can find, only it isn't British, it's American."

Master tea blender John Harney started his company in upstate New York in 1983. Back then, as John Harney recalls on the company's website, it was impossible to visit tea growers in China, so everybody settled for Taiwanese tea. Indian teas were dark and monotone, and Japan kept its amazing teas to itself. All that has changed. In the last 25 years, the market for fine tea has exploded, and exports from the "lost" tea plantations of China, India and elsewhere have become available in the West. Harney & Sons sells an astonishing variety of black teas, white teas, green teas, flavored teas and dozens of its own exclusive blends.

Harney started out selling rare teas to discriminating buyers, but then Williams-Sonoma picked up his teas and things took off. His sons joined him in the business. One took over the operations; the other travels the world looking for the good stuff. It's not cheap, but if you know someone who loves tea, you will earn her eternal gratitude if you buy her some.


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