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Sad Good-bye: John Harney

Anna Vega - June 25th, 2014

Out of the basement of his Connecticut home in 1983, former U.S. Marine and Cornell University alum John Harney began a pursuit to perfect the intricacies of tea blending. This fervor was triggered more than 20 years earlier, when British tea expert and owner of Sarum Tea Stanley Mason introduced Harney to the world of artisan brew, evolving to a decade-long apprenticeship that lasted until Mason passed away in 1980. The self-taught master blender followed successfully in his mentor’s footsteps and superseded his own expectations when the home-run business proliferated into the globally renowned enterprise Harney & Sons.

Harney is credited with developing the specialty tea sector at a time when the product was ambiguous to American markets. “No man ever graced his profession more than John Harney has done for ours,” tea authority, author, and friend James Norwood Pratt said in 2011 when Harney was presented with the Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award in tea. His mission to “spread the business of tea” continued as he mentored others in the industry, participated in lectures, and co-authored Eat Tea: A New Approach to Flavoring Contemporary and Traditional Dishes.

The visionary pioneer passed away in his home on June 17 at the age of 83, but his operation continues to run at the helm of his family. He is survived by his wife, Elyse, and his five Children, John Jr., Michael, Keith, Elyse, and Paul as well as nine grandchildren.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the following foundation: the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships to military children, with particular attention given to those whose parent has been killed or wounded in combat, or who have demonstrated financial need.