Our Tradition

30 years ago in Salisbury, Connecticut, proprietor of the historic White Hart Inn, John Harney, developed a passion for fine teas. John was introduced to the world of tea by Stanley Mason, who turned to creating his own craft tea blends after years in the corporate world of tea. Over time, Mason taught John both the art and business of the craft.

Starting production out of his basement in 1983, John began his own journey in mastering the craft of tea blending. Serving his distinctive blends with inn guests, he soon found they were coming backfor more. Never did John Harney imagine that his small home-run business in Salisbury, Connecticut would turn into a global operation, now headquartered in Millerton, New York filling 90,000 square feet of warehouse space, and employing over 155 people, making it one of the largest employers in the Hudson Valley. The company, which sources, blends, and packages their own product from start to finish, has grown from their original six teas, to more than three hundred. Their story truly captures the essence of American Business Ingenuity.

Harney & Sons was founded on a commitment to deliver customers the finest quality tea possible. This promise, made 30 years ago, serves as the company's guiding principle. Today, Harney & Sons Tea remains family owned and managed, with three generations of Harney's preserving John's tradition of fine tea and traveling the world in search of the finest ingredients.

It is not only the Harney mission to deliver quality tea products to their customers, but also to educate the world of tea history and taste. Whether through their dedicated customer service team, their published guides to tea drinking, or their two tea tasting shops, the Harney & Sons team works to pass on their passion of tea to a wide audience. From lugging heavy tea filled chests down their basement stairs, to stocking shelves at Targets nationwide, Harney & Sons remains committed to delivering their customers a superior tea drinking experience.

The Story from John Harney Himself

Who would have thought this is possible? All those years ago, when we had tea chests (when they still used those bulky wooden boxes) down in our basement, I surely did not. Our youngest, Paul, was still in school, so he would have to lug them down the narrow stairs. I would take the light boxes back up to be shipped out to those few people that bought from us in 1983. It seemed busy at the time (little did I know). I remember the phone call from this guy who said his name was Chuck Williams, and he said he had some cook shops and wanted to carry my teas. Williams-Sonoma still is a valued customer.

After a few years, I convinced my son Michael to join me. Now there were two full-time employees! We moved to a new house with old sheds, and we grew. And we grew. My only daughter, Lyse, did sales calls in New York one college vacation. She walked into the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. She told the manager that they had to use Harney & Sons. And they still do.

Baby Paul got bigger, but he never lost his love of machines. When he joined the company (after being a USMC officer) he brought us into a new world: one of tea packing machines. I still do not know how to turn one on, but they are efficient and help the company grow. They allow us to offer the best tasting teas in convenient ways. Michael travels the globe in search of the best tasting teas. Now the next generation is coming on board. Alex manages the restaurant at our Tasting Room, and Emeric manages the Tasting Room in SoHo.

My wife Elyse and I travel when I am not here at the tea company. As we travel, it is humbling to be welcomed at great hotels and restaurants. Such a change, traveling so much. When I started in the business, I considered Boston a trip!

For someone who devoted himself to tea at 53 years of age, it is a dream come true. My mentor, Stanley Mason, taught me so much. I loved learning about British Legacy teas from a Brit. He taught me how to make the best Earl Grey. Stanley started me down this long road, but now we sell teas which he never even considered. The world of tea has expanded considerably in the last 25 years. I stay committed to offering the finest teas. My love of tea has spread to my family and our customers worldwide. I know that we have a tradition of tea that will endure.

We make our teas for your enjoyment, so if you have any questions or problems, please call us at (800) TEA-TIME or e-mail us at HT@Harney.com. We always love to discuss our favourite subject!

I drink to your health.