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Restaurant Guide

Harney & Sons

Map13 Main St
Millerton, NY 12546
(518) 789-2121
    Categories:
  • Dessert/Sweets
  • Tea Room
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Description:

When my sister-in-law recently announced that she had transformed her sunroom into a tea- room, an afternoon gathering place for family and friends, I ascribed her actions to midlife crisis. But one day as I sat in a comfortable wicker chair in that room, sipping apricot tea from a delicate china cup, with the gentle sounds of an indoor miniature waterfall in the background, I felt a wonderful sense of zenlike calm. I realized that drinking tea meant much more than brewing a supermarket tea bag to treat a sore throat. Tea time was a ritual to be cultivated and nurtured as a respite from our harried lives. My subsequent search for the best teas led me to Millerton, New York, the new home of Harney & Sons. Occupying a former 1860s smokehouse in the center of town, the shop is neighbor to antiques stores, gift shops, clothing boutiques and the renowned Gilmor Glassworks, where you can watch artisans create mouth-blown works of art. John Harney, voted Bon Appetit's Food Artisan of 2005, founded his company in Connecticut in 1983 and over the ensuing years has garnered a reputation as an American tea guru. It was his goal to make drinking high-quality, great tea an everyday luxury. His shelves hold black, green and white teas, organic and decaffeinated teas, oolong and jasmine teas, fruit-flavored and herbal teas, gathered from all over the world, with many of them blended in his factory near the retail operation. Today his tea is served in upscale hotels throughout the country and sold in retail shops like Williams-Sonoma and Balducci's, as well as through a catalog and website. Brigitte Harney manages the retail aspect of the company for her father-in-law while her husband Michael and his brother Paul work with their father in all other aspects of the business. Brigitte is either found in the Tasting Room brewing the Tea of the Moment or in the retail area waiting on a roomful of eager customers. The display shelves are full of tea-related giftware, from iron teapots at $120 to a stainless-steel travel cup for $19. There are china teacups and pots, tea towels, Japanese tea ceremony sets, sachets, thermoses, candleholders, decorative long matches, air fresheners/fragrances, notepads and calendars. For your afternoon tea at home, there are plenty of sweet nibbles from which to choose: chocolates and caramels, cookies, jams and honeys, scone mixes and an intense, satisfying hot chocolate powder by Maribel Lieberman, who uses only the richest Belgian dark chocolate. Refrigerate the mix and this chocolaty treat turns to a dense, luscious pudding -- for true chocoholics. There are a few books as well, including Eat Tea by John Harney and cookbook author Joanna Pruess. There are also gift sets galore, ranging in price from just $8 to over $100 (you could also put together a set yourself). A pretty ivory tub comes with all the essentials for a lazy winter day: white tea lotions and salts, fizzing bath additives, a lemongrass-grapefruit candle, a Harney logo teacup -- and tea. A boxed set with twenty grams of thin-grade Matcha, a ceramic Matcha bowl (chawan) and a whisk (chasen) to make the Matcha tea is $85. And then there is the tea itself. Harney sells a dizzying array of about one hundred and fifty different varieties. They are sold in handsome tins of assorted colors and designs, either loose or in paper or in silky, translucent sachets. Art teas, which are lovely to drink, are quite intriguing. When the Jasmine Fairy Maidens tea is brewed, for example, a tall, stunning white flower emerges, a real flower that has been dried and now blossoms in the hot water. Art teas are best served in a glass pot to showcase the flower as it blooms ($18 for a four-ounce tin). The Wedding Blend ($13 for twenty sachets packaged in a flower-adorned silver tin) is a combination of Mutan White tea, lemon-vanilla flavoring, pink rosebuds and petals. There is even a tea named after Brigitte, a mixture of silvery Ceylon and golden Assam ($10 for four ounces). English Breakfast and Ear

Additional Information:

Price (main dish): over $25

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