Tea lovers gather at Harney’s to taste Athleteas for athletes, latest three of over 250 blends
Harney’s in Soho is a rich resource for tea lovers, presenting for tasting, purchase or sit down enjoyment leaves from sources in India, China and Ceylon and as far flung as Rwanda or even Italy (dried olive leaves from the South) mixed into over two hundred and fifty inventive but rich and always tasteful blends from Sally’s Secret black tea with its notes of Black Pepper and Rosepetal to the distinctly earthy but still delicate Rwanden RuGeri, a tea benefiting from the slow processing possible in Rwanda which escapes the humidity and heat of India, to Osmanthus Oolong, with its tiny flowers from Fujian Province in China turned into a heap of particles which yield such a dense tea that it can be infused more than once as its flavor develops.
This afternoon’s event marked the new partnership between Harney’s and Dr Mara Smith, the specialist in tutoring Olympic athletes how to train their bodies with the right mental attitude to reach peak performance, by presenting three different new ‘Athleteas’ for sampling at the tasting counter of Harney’s long and recently efficiently remodeled retail space which is on the south side of Broome Street just East of Broadway. The middle of the extensive wooden counter featured three glowing rosy round globes of AthleTea, one for ‘performance’ with caffeine (orange mango) and one for ‘performance’ without caffeine (Get Your Passion Berry AthleTea) and one for ‘recovery’ without caffeine (the soothing Go to Goji).
All this according to Mara, a warm, lively woman in sturdy black spectacles who believes that tea drinking is the way for high performing athletes “to carve out time for reflection on past progress and to focus forward” on future accomplishment, and is working with many athletes who now wish to move from health drinks toward tea. Of course this should appeal as well to all healthy people who are not actually athletes, she says, since as the Nike saying has it “If you have a body you are an athlete!”
Apart from the large canisters of specialty teas that line the wall behind the serving counter in a solid block of 250 teas, Harney’s has a small space at the back for people to sit with tea or even coffee (recently added) and a slew of intriguing extras to buy lining the wall opposite, including “Homesick” candles to remind one of home, tumblers with inscriptions like NEW YORK HOME, decorated mugs especially for “Little Miss Busy”, “Mr Grumpy”, “Little Miss Chatterbox” and other children, attractive leaf motif tote bags, and black baseball caps with legends front and rear (“Hello with “Goodbye”, or “Books” with “Join The Club” , or “This is Tea” and “Harneys”.)
Mousing the Google map of Harney’s location on Broome just East of Broadway in Soho (take the Lex subway to Spring) and you notice that there is no listing for thousands of Yelp or Google reviews as for other much less notable places. Yet there are often crowds outside the doors when it opens at 10.30am daily (closes 6.30pm)
Evidently Harneys is discreetly British in style in selling itself as well as its tea by relying on word of mouth to advertise its top tea level social and commercial presence, for as the cap says, truly “This is Tea, Harneys”. Yet in only seven years it has established this, still the only offshoot of its home base in Millerton, in upstate New York, as indeed the tea place in New York par excellence.
One can only hope that, as Emeric Harney the third generation owner of this flagship in fashionable Soho now crowded with visitors from foreign countries where tea is often more established than here, says is the plan, Harneys expands the size and comfort of its restricted seating area to a level consonant with its leadership of what one hopes will be a continuing advance of the more enlightened and healthy alternative to coffee in too caffeine addicted New York City.