Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Harney and Sons Tea

I recently placed my first tea order with Harney and Sons.  They are a New York based family owned company that have gotten rave reviews throughout the tea community, to the point that they were even commissioned to create teas for the British Historic Royal Palaces organization.  Wow, an American company being commissioned by the Brits?  I figured with that kind of "tea cred" they were definitely worth a shot. 

They were extremely quick and efficient when it came to order confirmation, shipping and delivery.  A big plus!  I ordered three different tins, although they also offer an option for ordering samples.  I took the risk, as I was pretty sure I would like what I had chosen.  They were all white teas:  White Christmas, Winter White Earl Grey and Royal Wedding Tea, an Historic Royal Palaces blend created in honor of William and Kate's royal wedding in 2011.  With that kind of background, I figure it's gotta be good, right?!  (Honestly, I feel quite crass speaking that way about this tea lol.  It just sounds wrong.  Drinking tea like this calls for using words like "uppity" and "preposterous" and wearing a hat and gloves.)

Anyway, what I'm learning about white teas is that they need to steep a lot longer than is recommended to really get the full flavor.  If I stick to 1-2 minutes, it just tastes like hot water- bleh.  4-5 minutes adds light flavor, but still primarily hot water overall.  I did roughly 8-10 minutes today and it was perfect!  The trick is to never use boiling water.  That will cause bitterness, and not much tastes worse in the tea world than bitter flavored hot water. 

So far, White Christmas and Winter White Earl Grey are pluses in my book, and I will probably eventually reorder.  Royal Wedding is good, but it doesn't impress me as an anything out of the ordinary sort of thing.  It's soft and smooth and fairly delicate.  Think buttercream coconut wedding cake.  It would be a good light dessert tea.  Unfortunately Harney doesn't offer sample sizes of this tea.   The smallest size I could find was a 30 sachet tin, which is what I purchased.  I ended up bringing it to work to brew up in the morning.  I keep an ongoing tea stash there, while saving my more preferred teas for enjoying at home.  

All in all, I definitely recommend Harney and Sons tea so far.  Their tins are gorgeous, the teas are tasty, and they offer a high quality selection at a very reasonable price.  Order yourself a few (or more!) samples, take a risk on a tin or two, and embrace the luxury of tea!

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