Review: Harney & Sons Fifth Anniversary Store Party Mon. Nov. 16, 2015

Event: Harney & Sons Fifth Year Store Party & Tasting with 20% off all loose teas and candles, but who’s going to really care about the latter!

What to choose?

Spoiled for choice

Spirikal’s bottom line. If tea is your thing, then this would have been right up your alley. With 20% all loose tea, free scones and tea & bourbon flavored cocktail, there was little not to like; however, the event was crowded and it took a while to sample the teas. Certain members of staff seemed a bit overwhelmed by the amount of people and became almost terse with customers.

Sampling teas

Sampling teas

Review:  Although I’ve known Harney & Sons for a long while, having visited the shop in SoHo for tea & scones with clotted cream and from the annual Coffee & Tea festival in New York, this was the first store event that I found about. What I didn’t know is that H&S often holds in-store events and promotions, including tea demonstrations and classes, according to some of the guests I bumped into. Suddenly, I felt strangely left out. After all, I got their invite for this gig by E-mail so what happened with the others?

You starin' at my cocktails?

You starin’ at my cocktails?

A Soho blend

A Soho blend

The venue seems fitting for events open to the public, but this one became incredibly crowded with tea goers queuing up to sample their two-flights at a time. I know you can’t rush a good cupper, but I waited almost 20 min to taste my two samples. Plus, there was an absence of crowd control so guests weren’t sure where the line began and ended. Ah well, at least I got my tea in the end.

The Tea Map

The Tea Map

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Many of the customers chose the more exotic,  herby varieties of tea, but there were many high quality classic ones to enjoy, including my favorites: Darjeeling and dark CTC Assam. Others tried the smokier Lapsang Shouchong from Taiwan and China or the slightly bitter but delicious Gemaicha from Japan. There were some barky teas, and one that smelled of potpourri but tasted of bland hot water.

Meet me at the tea bar

Meet me at the tea bar

In the shops’s rear,the customers sampled H&S’ famous vanilla scones and some others with cheddar cheese, but we all know that a proper scone needs a dollop of clotted cream and jam, or at the very least some softened butter. Unsuprisingly, with nothing to spread, they were a bit on the dry side.

The cocktail was an interesting mix of Early Grey and bourbon. Although I’m not a huge fan of bourbon, the cocktail was refreshing without being over-perfumy with the alcohol. I enjoyed it nevertheless, even if the bourbon and tea competed a bit.

Throughout the event, I chatted with many people including someone I had met once before at a reception at the French Consulate. I was suprised by how many people turned up, and I think from H&S’ point of view, this was a great success. It just goes to show the knuckleheads who organized the Coffee (but no tea) Expo at the Armory that New Yorkers like their tea as well.

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Tea paraphernallia

The manager and most of the staff were really nice, but a couple of them seemed almost hostile when I introduced myself and asked if I could take a couple shots for my blog. Honestly, that was a first for me. In fact, the guy serving cocktails flatly said, “I really don’t care”, when I asked to take some pictures of the drinks. Thinking I got off the wrong foot with him, I tried to be as charming as possible, but it took a while before he came around. I’m not sure what I said to get that reaction, but I’ll have to work on introducing myself.

On my way out, I bought some Assam and Gemaicha with a twenty percent discount. I wasn’t complaining.

 

 

Spirikal

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