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From Humble Beginnings, Harney & Sons Has Grown into a National Presence

By Hannah Hollins

HarneyandSons-smallerThirty years ago, John Harney decided to take his 13 years of experience with tea and start a business of his own. After starting the business in the basement of the family home, Harney & Sons eventually moved into the garage of a 19th century house and then into a remodeled auto repair garage. Ten years ago, Harney & Sons expanded into a 90,000 square foot factory, where company operations currently stand.
Today, Harney & Sons continues to be a family affair. John Harney comes to work every day to work alongside his sons, Paul and Mike, who have divided up the major tasks of the business. Mike heads business and finance and travels around the world sourcing quality teas, and Paul manages the factory production and sales. Mike’s wife Brigitte is the head of retail. Michael’s sons Alex and Emeric are also very active in the company. Alex runs the cafe at the Millerton Shop and Emeric runs the SoHo shop, and they are also involved in the marketing and branding for the company.
Mike’s work sourcing the teas takes him around the world. “We go over to Asia to establish contacts, and we bring back lots of samples,” he says. After the tea is ordered, it is shipped from abroad in 60-pound boxes to the Harney & Sons factory, located in Millerton, NY. There, it is processed and repackaged into tea bags for Harney & Sons’ distinctive tins and boxes.
Harney & Sons recently announced its latest product, The Ambessa Tea Collection, a unique custom tea line created with celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson. The four teas of the Ambessa collection represent the four different phases in Samuelsson’s life. The Safari Breakfast tea reflects his Ethiopian roots: it is made from Kenyan black teas, sourced from the tea-growing country near his birthplace. The second tea, Lingonberry Green, is reminiscent of his Scandinavian upbringing. The third tea, Choco Nut Blend, is a black tea blend with warm chocolate notes, representing Samuelsson’s culinary training in Switzerland. The fourth and final tea of the Ambessa tea collection is the Earl of Harlem, nodding to Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem restaurant.
Harney & Sons teas and products are available for purchase at its shops in SoHo and Millerton, as well as online and at a number of retailers nationwide, including Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, Hannaford and A Southern Season in Charleston, S.C. The teas can also be found on Delta Airlines in first class, business class and international cabins, as well as at the Hilton hotels, the Waldorf-Astoria and many restaurants.
For more information, contact Harney & Sons on the web at www.harney.com/, on facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Harney-Sons-Fine-Teas/49697304292, or on twitter at @HarneyTea.

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