John Harney Accepts Cha Jing and Accolades from Crowd

Pratt and Harney
J. Norwood Pratt with Cha Jing recipient John Harney


Specialty tea pioneer John Harney accepted the inaugural Cha Jing Award for Lifetime Achievement Friday at the Networking Reception of the World Tea East.

Harney, founder of Harney & Sons, Millerton, NY, was introduced by World Tea Media President George Jage. After presenting the hefty trophy James Norwood Pratt recounted the honoree’s legendary accomplishments in a good-natured banter from the podium with Harney at his side.

“No man ever graced his profession more than John Harney has done for ours,” said Pratt, a well-known tea authority and author. He recounted the early days of Harney & Sons, which was founded in 1983 at White Heart Inn in Salisbury, Conn.

Harney is known for his great, good heart and richly deserves his considerable fame, said Pratt in awarding the Cha Jing trophy.

In accepting the award Harney displayed his characteristic modesty, attributing accomplishments to his team and crediting his daughter Lyse and sons Paul and Mike for establishing business relationships with major hotel chains as well as founding the company’s retail business.

Pratt and Harney became not just presenter and awardee, but also the evening’s entertainment. The quick banter kept the crowd laughing. Harney recalled Pratt calling him many years ago to ask for help. Pratt agreed. “You helped me with my first book…and I believe it did you no harm!”

Pratt and Harney
James Pratt and John Harney, right, entertained the crowd with good natured banter.

“If anyone could supply tea to the English palaces and castles it is the Irishman John Harney,” said Pratt, adding that the firm’s work will continue. “On a quiet day you can hear the Harney’s installing yet another tea bag machine.”

Perhaps the most important words came toward the end of the remarks, “By spreading the culture of tea, we’re spreading the business of tea.”

“John is blessed with a lovely heart, the smile in his heart is what makes the smile when you drink good tea,” said his wife Elyse Harney.

As guests gathered, a flurry of people circled around Harney, snapping pictures and sharing their thanks and good wishes, as a slideshow of his life rolled on.

“We tested many teas for our tea makers and kettles,” recalled Sam Weiner, president of Edgecraft, home of Chef’s Choice in Avondale, Penn. “John Harney’s teas were the finest we found and we have used and provided Harneyteas to our customers ever since.”

The reception was a wonderful collection of tea folks, both those who are new to the field and others who have spent a lifetime promoting it.

The Johnstons of Teas Etc., Beth, Newman, and Chris, were frequently visible around the room.

Hartley Johnson of Mark T. Wendell Tea was in town to represent his family, long-time friends of the Harney family. He spent some time catching up with the folks at Simpson & Vail, another company with whom MTW has shared a long history.

Cynthia Gold, tea sommelier and author of Culinary Tea, talked cooking with Laurie Bell of Great Falls Tea Garden. “You make food for people you like,” said Bell. Gold responded, “You make food to nurture people.”

Lisa Boalt Richardson spent time talking with Suzette Hammond and Ellainy Karaboitis Christopolous of the Specialty Tea Institute.

Mark Arathoon of North American Tea & Coffee talked with Devan Shah of ITI about his kids, while Thomas Shu explained how to effectively create a tea tasting experience and to build a cupping room.

The folks from Ajiri, Ann Funkhouser, Sarah Holby, and Nick Miyogo spent a few minutes looking up where in Wisconsin another expo attendee could buy their tea. Answer: Neenah.

Jane Pettigrew introduced Harney’s buyer Marcus to Liu Di who will be helping with Jane’s Saturday puerh tasting session. She was then joined by Pearl Dexter of “TEA: A Magazine” and her friend Mark. Jane announced that Pearl could pack lighter than anyone, but have more outfits available while Pearl showed her beautiful tea-dyed scarf.

Linda Villano and Javier Avila of Serendipitea spent some time making the rounds.

John Smagula, Director of Asian Programs at Temple, talked school and tea with Jen Dodd of Jeni’s Tea.

Bloggers Courtney M. Powers and Nicole Schwartz enjoyed catching up in person, instead of just in Twitter and blog world.

Cha Jing AwardThe Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award was made possible by the following Gold Sponsors: HTH Hamburger Teehandel GmbH Im & Export and QTrade Teas & Herbs. The Champion Sponsor was ITO EN and the Leader Sponsor was Dethlefsen & Balk. Additional Supporters include: SerenidipiTea, Tea Association of Canada, TeaSource, Walker Tea and Zojirushi. Friends of the 2011 Award include: East Indies Tea Company, Fresh Cup Magazine, Jane Pettigrew, Jodie Cohen, Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association, Perennial Tea Room, Bruce and Shelley Richardson, Tea Roses Tea Room and The Tea House Times.

Katrina Munichiello, author of A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time, contributed to this report.