John Harney, the founder of specialty tea company Harney & Sons, has died on June 17 at the age of 83. Harney was an American businessman whose deep appreciation for tea helped restore the practice of afternoon tea throughout upscale dining rooms and restaurants across the country.
Harney & Sons was founded in 1983 with a mere six varieties of tea, and eventually expanded to include 300 strains of tea.
Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Harney and like-minded lovers of tea made it their mission to restore American interest in teas, “one afternoon-tea demonstration at a time,” reports The New York Times.
By comparing complex loose teas from China, India, and Africa to the store-bought teas available in America, Harney took it upon himself to educate the American palate on quality teas.
Today, Harney & Sons teas are offered in luxury hotels like the Waldorf Astoria and the Ritz Carlton in New York, and the Dorchester in London, along with the gift shops of Kensington Palace and the Tower of London.
“All we wanted to do was get out there and convert,” Harney told CNN of his business in 2001. “Sort of like St. John with his gospel of tea. That’s what I consider myself.”