In a society that is obsessed with coffee, tea is a drink that is considered somewhat antiquated, even boring. However, if you listen long enough to Emeric Harney, Managing Director of Harney & Sons, he will have you convinced that tea is “a fabulous, interesting product with great history and stories behind it.” His enthusiasm is infectious and it won’t be long before you start looking at tea with newfound respect.
When you first walk into the shop, you just might mistake it for a regular tea shop where you are likely to find one of the more popular brands of tea, along with a few exotic Chinese green teas thrown in for good measure. It won’t take long for you to dismiss your ignorance sheepishly as you realize that Harney & Sons is more than just a regular mom and pop establishment – it’s an international powerhouse of tea. In fact, Harney’s tea can be found at Williams-Sonoma, Starbucks and other fine-dining establishments and gourmet shops all over the world.
Besides, look at the stacks and stacks of black and gold boxes crammed full of more than 250 varieties of gourmet teas from all over the world, including Africa, India, Japan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and China, and you realize full well the true meaning of Emeric Harney’s words “Tea can be intimidating”. We are, indeed, intimidated.
Headquartered in Millerton, Dutchess County, Harney & Sons also have a teahouse in SoHo at 433 Broome Street. Although they’ve been in business for more than two and a half decades, business is conducted out of only two shops. At the SoHO tea house, you can sample teas from their extensive collection and, while you are it, pick up tips on how to do so like a connoisseur. The shop also has a small, cozy café, capable of seating up to 26 people at a time and it serves sweet and savory scones, quiches, and tea-infused macarons. In addition, you are also welcome to try out specialties like SoCo Creamery’s tea-flavored ice cream and Brovetto Dairy’s tea-laced Harpersfield cheeses.
By the time you leave this place, you will have a full belly, a jolly countenance and a contented soul, not to mention several exotic teas tucked under your arm, a parcel of cute looking cups and kettles for your best friend, and a cookbook for your mother-in-law. Yes, they stock all that as well. I think I am on my way to becoming a convert very soon. Guess where you’ll find me this coming weekend!
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