A taste for tea

I love tea, and among the types I drink, I have occasionally enjoyed the fine teas of Harney & Sons. However, since visiting their shop in the Berkshire hills of New York, I’m sure I will become a more ardent connoisseur of their tea leaves.

The shop and tasting room are in a blue clapboard building beside a stream in the village of Millerton. On the counter in front of a wall of shiny tea canisters, two teas were ready for my husband and I to try – Amba Ceylon, a hand-rolled artisanal black tea from Sri Lanka, and Chamraj Nilgiri FOP, a mellow black tea from the hills of Southern India.

Both tastes were very enjoyable, but when we got to choose a flavour of our own, that’s when we became die-hard fans. Gregory’s Earl Grey Supreme was very smooth, and my Chocolate Mint melded the two flavours together wonderfully.

When we asked where the teas were produced, the shop assistant said the plant was just around the corner, would we like a tour? Of course! So, after a quick phone call to arrange it, we drove to an unassuming warehouse five minutes away. We donned hair nets and saw where:

  • enormous shelves held imported teas from China, India and South Africa
  • rotating drums blended the different types of teas 
  • fine teas were tasted before being processed
  • whirring machines packaged tea into paper bags and silk sachets 
  • workers hand-packed tins with loose-leaf tea
  • assembly lines put together boxes of product to be shipped

What a great way to learn about how tea is produced! I know I will have the Harney & Sons shop in mind when I sip my next cup of tea.