When we gave our customers the opportunity to Ask Mike (that’s me!) Anything, you all did not disappoint! Whether it’s on one of our Facebook live shows that Paul and I often do, or in this format, I love getting questions from Harney fans. Here are a few that were sent in recently -- sure hope I got the answers right!
Q: Is there a difference in taste from loose-leaf teas to teas that come in an individual pyramid bag? My mum says there is but l can't tell. Please settle this dispute for us. - Linda P.
MH: It would depend upon the tea. This weekend, they are packing the new season of Dragon Pearl Jasmine and both loose-leaf and sachets are exactly the same. Also, we have done Chamomile recently; it is different because the large chamomile flowers do not flow well into sachets, so we add more broken flowers. The sachet itself does not add any flavors and transfers tea flavors well.
Q: Which in your opinion is the best green tea overall? - Irene
MH: Well, I do love my Meijiawu Lung Ching. It’s pricey, but for a reason: it’s the French Champagne of green teas, the one all other green teas are measured against.
Q: Where do you source your oolong teas? Which is your favorite, and do you plan to restock the Big Red Robe soon? - Claire R., Bexley North, Australia
Q: Which Harney tea would you give to your wife as her birthday gift or Christmas gift if you could choose one? - Mayumi G., Louisville, KY
MH: I would be nuts not to give Brigitte’s Blend, which is named after her! Also, see the next question for related info...
Q: The iconic Dorchester Hotel in London actually offers a Harney & Sons tea (Brigitte’s Blend), and I was really curious how your tea got picked or chosen to represent such an amazing London institution? - Chris H., Meadowbrook, PA
MH: There was a guy who worked at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC, and he took a job at the Dorchester. He was crazy enough to insist that they use our teas. What an honor. They did change the name to Dorchester Blend, but it’s the same tea.
Q: When will Harney replace the nylon sachets with biodegradable ones? - Jerry W., Seattle, WA
MH: We have started to replace the petroleum-based material with sugarcane. Right now about 35% of production is using sugarcane. There are some operation issues, but we hope that by the end of 2022 we will be 100%. You can read more on our latest update on our blog.
Q: If you were not working with tea, what would you do? Like Albert Einstein played violin, said he would have been a musician, lived his daydreams in music. Thank you. (I love your tea. My life is always with your tea.) - Mayumi G., Louisville, KY
MH: Before tea, I worked in the wine business. So maybe that. As I am getting closer to 70, this is becoming a real question. Did one of my sons ask this question??
Q: How has the pandemic affected your company’s ability to source and ship? - Lori C., Indianapolis, IN
MH: Right now we are on vapors with our Assam supply. The 2022 shipments are coming at the end of this month. Also, we get only tiny numbers of bottles, so the supply chain is an issue. As the months add up, there are more and more problems. Plus the cost of shipping is five times more than it was last year. Yikes!!
Q: What’s your favorite tea? - Kate
Q: An impressive 38-year history. What does Harney look like in the next 38 years? - Dustin T., Phoenix, AZ
MH: Well I just did the math, and in another 38 years I would be 104! Though tea has been good to me and for my health, I doubt I will be around for that big day. My father passed the business down to my brother Paul and me, and that is my plan going forward. Tea has been around for many thousands of years, so there should be people enjoying tea for many years to come. I would like to think that our family, maybe our granddaughter Korabelle, would be helping people. However, life happens.
Q: Would you be interested in putting a commercial premise in Coronel Suárez, the national capital of polo and a province of Buenos Aires, Argentina? - Raquel
MH: I have heard good things about Argentina, so maybe we start with a visit.
Q: What made you happy today? - Hana
MH: Cyber week during the holidays is full of ups and downs. So the weekend after, I am happy to have survived that. Also, it looks like we will not have the COVID outbreak that brought the county health people to our plant and quarantined the whole shipping department last year. That made this 65-year-old tired packing all those orders! Retirement is looking better all the time!!