Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — Connecticut

What do you know about Connecticut? That it's in southern New England and that it's the home of Yale University in New Haven? True enough, but there are some tea-related things about Connecticut that are worth knowing as well!

• What would you say is the most well-respected name in tea here in the U.S.? I would make the case that it is clearly Harney & Sons. The late John Harney was proprietor of the White Hart Inn in Salisbury, Connecticut some 30-plus years ago when he first developed a passion for fine teas. According to the company website, he was introduced to the world of tea by Stanley Mason, who taught him the art and the business of tea-blending. His home-based business there in Salisbury, Connecticut would become a worldwide operation, and today the Harney name is widely recognized for its quality tea. The company was even invited by the Historic Royal Palaces of England to create some English tea blends. Best of all, I think, is that the company is still family owned and operated today. I am a loyal fan of Harney teas, and I think Connecticut can be proud to claim them.

• Whenever I'm researching a particular state, I turn to the Library of Congress website and type in the name of the state and "tea" to see if any tea associations happen to pop up. I was intrigued to find there this 1933 photo titled "Father Sill's Tea." Who was Father Sill, and why were these boys having tea? Well, Father Sill was an Episcopal monk who founded the Kent School, a private school in Kent, Connecticut in 1906. Sill was also the headmaster and rowing coach at the school. In fact, the school's website says one reason he chose the location for the school was its location near a river. Kent is also known as the first secondary school in the country to charge students on a sliding scale, something that was important to Sill because he wanted the school to have students from all walks of life. In 1960, the school started admitting girls as well. I still don't know precisely what "Father Sill's Tea" was, but I was intrigued by the story of the monk who founded a school and served as a rowing coach. Maybe the boys were having a bracing cup of tea before a race!

• Those of us who collect vintage postcards enjoy looking at these beautiful old pieces of ephemera. This one, from 1911, features the late, great Edgewood Inn in Greenwich, Connecticut. Isn't it magnificent! The 150-room hotel sat on 350 acres of old farmland. Among the restaurants in the hotel was Ye Colonial Tea Room. For women, the hotel offered a reception room, parlor, and writing room as well. With a tearoom and a writing room, this hotel is one I certainly would have loved visiting, but alas, after the building was leased to a school from 1932-1940, it was eventually razed, and we can remember it and its tea room only through a postcard on Wikipedia.


  1. I"m a Harney's fan, for sure. And the picture of Father Sill's tea is fascinating. I'm learning all sorts of new things!

  2. Love the beautiful state of Connecticut - lived there for a short time. In addition to Harney & Sons (now based in NY), Connecticut is also home to Simpson & Vail, another father/son family owned business. Sharing one of my tea room memories from Connecticut: we were served a 3-tiered tray for a family of 4, the fruit garnish on the tray was 1 blueberry! You don't forget that!

  3. I always enjoy your posts on Saturday. Yes, Harney & Sons is now in New York, Millersburg. Father Sill's tea would be interesting to know more about.

  4. Interesting. Thanks for another tea lesson

  5. Thanks for a great visit to Connecticut - I would have enjoyed visiting the Edgewood Inn. Those postcards have such a history to them.

    One of my sisters used to live in Stamford and it was a beautiful city to visit, especially in the fall. Really enjoying this series, Angela, you are so creative. Have a great weekend. Joanie


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