While the dictionary may define coffee as “a drink made from the roasted and ground beanlike seeds of a tropical shrub, served hot or iced,” I think all the explanation it needs is “gross.” I am firmly in the tea camp and consistently search for new ones to discover. Therefore, when my friend Rachel asked if we could stop into the famous Harney & Sons shop when I visited her in New York, I gave her an enthusiastic ‘yes.’
Admittedly, I was not super into tea until I hit college. Growing up in a household that was 3/4 Persian, tea was a staple at the parties I attended as a child. The kids who were a few years older than me and their mothers would take steaming cups of black chai (tea) and bowls of ghand (sugar cubes) around for people to sip on both before and after dinner. I rarely partook in this tradition because I was young and just wanted to fit in with the kids at school who were blonder and less hairy than I was (TMI?). By the time I came around to giving tea a chance, I discovered I really enjoyed this warm, versatile product and have since spent a lot of mornings testing out new brands and flavors to parse out my favorites.
Therefore, Harney & Sons was essentially a haven for me and my mission to try as much great tea as possible. With a daily flight of teas that you can taste in-store, walls filled with tins that the employees are happy to let you see and sniff, and bag sizes to appeal to all levels of dependency, hours could be spent in this shop before all the options are discovered. Since it is located in some prime Soho real estate, it might not be the most personal shopping experience, but it was definitely better than I was anticipating. The employees were friendly and really knew their stuff, and after learning a bit from them, I ended up leaving with the popular Paris black tea.
As a girl who thinks everything French rules, I thought it was appropriate that I was naturally drawn to this flavor. Once I got home, I was really able to experiment with it and enjoy this tea without any distraction. This medium-colored beverage was one of the most potent ones I’ve ever tried. With a lot of floral lilac scents and vanilla, the heady mixture was still a bit reminiscent of both Paris and a breakfast tea. However, it actually served me best as an afternoon tea as I prefer something more mild in the mornings. It was especially great for me since I enjoy tea black. The flavors really shone when not masked by sugar or milk.
If Earl Grey ever decided to pick up some steroids, I’d imagine that Paris would be the outcome. Of course, I don’t condone drug use of any kind, even for an Earl. Therefore, I’d suggest just picking up Paris in-store or online so that poor Earl Grey doesn’t have to go to any extremes to please people….