Mike Harney Spills the Tea: A Day in the Life of a Tea Business Owner

Mike Harney Spills the Tea: A Day in the Life of a Tea Business Owner

Mike shares an overview of a day in the life of a tea business owner.
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While sitting around enjoying your favorite Harney tea, have you ever stopped to wonder what it’s like to run your own tea company? Well, in case you are curious about what running an international tea company looks like, I’m spilling the tea on a day being me! 


My day starts around 6AM when I try to work out. I like to have a healthy breakfast, and being pretty old school, I’ll often have Shredded Wheat cereal. There’s tea, of course! My breakfast tea is a tippy Assam without milk or sugar.

Work starts at 8AM. In addition to the weekly operations meeting and other mundane procedural stuff I won’t bore you with, there’s the interesting tea stuff, like tasting the daily tea production with Elvira Cardenas, our tea purchaser, and taster. We taste teas that have arrived and compare buying samples. We also taste possible teas depending upon the season, and if we need to buy supplemental teas later in the year.

Prime tea season starts at the end of March with Chinese green teas and First Flush Darjeeling. It continues through Senchas and Oolongs in May and ends up with Second Flush Darjeelings and Assams in late June and July.

We also spend time coming up with new teas. Right now, we are focusing on French Macaron, the winning blend from 2023’s Happy Blendings contest. It will be a delicious Mutan White tea with almond, vanilla, caramel, and lavender flavors. We can't wait for you to try it later this year!

Also, at some point in the morning, we have regular calls with our German tea brokers, HTH. We catch them in our mornings, which is their afternoon. Chinese and Japanese colleagues are done by email because of the time difference.


For lunch, I generally go to our little Millerton shop and get some soup and maybe something else yummy, plus a glass of iced tea. Our people make special blends of iced teas like Queen Catherine, which is quite delicious.

Then we taste more tea! We will taste the afternoon tea production as well as any hot samples – decisions that cannot wait until the next day. I’ll also go see William, our head blender, and his staff once a day. That’s where the magic happens! I also like to go out and see what’s shipping that day – it’s always amazing to see who gets what.

A quick aside here on some current exciting happenings: we recently bought a complete 20-foot container of matcha. That is a first. People cannot get enough of matcha! Also, we’re buying 35 metric tons of Spanish orange peel that will show up next November. We find that there is an almost caramel flavor with the orange flavors from this supplier. It is destined for our number 1 tea, Hot Cinnamon Spice. You heard it here first!

I also make sure to visit our Millerton store a couple of times a week and say hello to any customers I encounter, and I get down to our flagship SoHo store at 433 Broome Street about once a month. They have a fun staff, and it is always interesting to see what customers love.

Finally, I do some work with our sister company, The Hemp Division. I help plant the hemp in May and watch over them all summer until harvest in September. I assist in determining the correct time to roast the hemp flowers – we roast them to make them bioactive and available for our consumers. I also taste the production, but when it comes to The Hemp Division, my brother Paul is more involved than me.


I typically try to go home between 6:30-7PM. I’ll have wrapped up my tea drinking for the day around 4PM, since I’ve had quite a bit all day between the tastings and regular enjoyment. Because of that, when people ask me what tea I like to unwind with at night, my answer is wine! I’ve had plenty of tea all day and am a little bit of a “BurgHound” after visiting Burgundy, France, in 2023. So a Pinot Noir or Chardonnay is always welcomed.

And that, my friends, is a day in the life of a tea business owner, or this tea business owner at least! Basically, it’s full of delicious tea, amazing employees, and is about the best job in the world. As always, it’s our privilege to work to bring you teas that make you smile!

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