Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea"

Last week I received a copy of "The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea" by Michael Harney with Emily Kaiser, and as I expected this book is definitely a *must* for the tea lover's library. With 20 years experience buying and blending tea for his family's firm, Harney is definitely someone whose tea expertise can be trusted. So when his book lists "the 56 teas every tea connoisseur ought to know," well then, I simply assume there will be 56 teas I ought to know!

What's the first tea in the book? Yin Zhen, or Silver Needles. Hey, I tried that tea not long ago and really enjoyed it! So far, so good. Next up: Bai Mei, or White Eyebrow. I once tried a tea named Precious Eyebrow. Is this the same? Must investigate. Actually, I'd really like to investigate all these teas, and I'll bet I'm not the only one reading through this delightful book who thinks so.

So, I have an idea. Michael Harney recommends these 56 teas. That means if you tried just one a week, and doubled up near the end, you could try all 56 in one year. What do you think? Is that realistic? While my tea budget isn't quite prepared to support a full tin of tea every week, I do think I might be interested in ordering 4-8 samples at a time. Now I'm not officially committing to this, yet, but I'd love to know if others who have this book (or plan to get a copy) might be interested in critiquing these 56 teas during 2009. Maybe on Monday of each week I could list the tea up for review, and then on Saturday anyone who likes could post their opinion. Maybe even call it "Tea Tasting Saturday" or something like that. Would you participate? Maybe not every week (although that'd be great!), but at least some? Would you? And if you think it's just not a very interesting idea, please say so (you can even say it anonymously, you know). As an editor, I can promise you I've had some real dud ideas before, and I'd rather this not be one of them!


  1. New reader of the blog here - just found you. Hello from Texas!

    I'd love a "tea-along." (Brew-along... Cuppa-along?) It would be really neat if you could work with a tea shop or two to get together a sampler that includes the book, and a 1-3 cup sample of each of the teas, or at least a good selection of them. Sometimes it takes me a couple cups to decide if I like it, or I mess up in brewing a cup.

  2. Or Angela,
    You could get together a group of 10 or 12 friends that would each order a few boxes, meet on the third Tuesday of each month and try a few together. Or something like that. I'd go for it!

  3. I think it's a great idea, tho I'm not sure I can commit to all 56. I am already so behind on my tea tastin! I love H&S teas! One tip, too - look to purchase tea samples. I don't know if H&S offers samples, but Upton Teas does - and they are quite affordable.

  4. Hi,

    Tea samples can be ordered from a great tea website - These folks are the authors of The Story of Tea A Cultural History and Drinking Guide and they really know tea. They are gurus - and travel to the places that make tea to buy it !

  5. After reading yesterday, I emailed Harney and Sons and asked if they sell samples. I was very excited about the idea of trying one new tea a week (accompanied by the book). Here is her reply: Thanks for asking, and thanks for the info about the blog! We do offer samples of most of our teas. A lot of them are listed on the website under the tea name. If you don't find it there, you can request it in the comment section. The charge for loose tea samples is $2 for most, $3 for some of the high end teas. There are a few very special teas that we cannot offer in a sample size. Feel free to give a call if you'd like help in choosing which ones to try!--Beverly for Harney Tea.
    So--- it sounds affordable and now I can put this book on my Christmas list. Please let us know, Angela, if you intend to do this!! I'm excited!!

  6. This sounds like a wonderful idea. I have enjoyed some Harney & Sons tea in the past. I would really like to educate my tea palate and tasting and reviewing along with a group would be such fun. Although I may not be able to sample all 56 teas, it would be nice to hear how others liked each one. Maybe I'll put this book on my Christmas list.

  7. I have purchased many samples from Harney & Sons for $2 each. I would enjoy participating as best as my schedule allows. I love my book. It is a must have for all tea lovers.

  8. Oh, I'm glad to hear samples can be ordered directly from them!


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