It was a couple of years ago, on a visit to Harney and Sons Tea headquarters in Millerton, N.Y. A good part of the floor in the middle of a fairly large room was covered with cloth and bamboo mats. Spread out and stacked up on the coverings were hundreds of objects. There were tea chests, boxes, tins, tea pots and kettles, preparation and serving wares, related implements, books, documents, photographs, and miscellaneous artifacts of Asian origin. Anticipating the question, Paul Harney answered,“That’s Michael’s book.”

A couple of years later, we have The Harney & Sons Guide To Tea, by Michael Harney, Master Tea Blender. The stated purpose of the 272 page, hardcover volume is “…to transform tea drinkers into tea experts.” It is, in fact, a clearly written, well-organized presentation of Michael’s own expertise developed over years of tasting, travel and trade in the world of tea. If it doesn’t make you an expert, it will provide a solid foundation toward that goal, and be a valued reference for years to come.

At Coffee Express Co., when we instruct in coffee or tea basics we seek to provide foundational knowledge that can be built on over a lifetime. As with coffee, tea is a vast subject with a long history and many varied regional traditions and styles.

The Harney & Sons Guide is a first-person exploration of tea history, geography, cultivation, processing, and culture. It classifies the diversity of tea styles, and offers practices for proper brewing and serving. A unique and useful aspect of the book is Michael’s refined method for evaluating tea by aspects of aroma, flavor, and appearance.

Lively, informative, entertaining, and unpretentious, this book is highly recommended. Available from Border’s, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Harney & Sons