While I was enjoying my lunch today and stalking my recent tea order I hopped on to Facebook to see what I’d missed in the last 12+ hours. I was surprised to see notes of remembrance for John Harney, founder of Harney and Sons Fine Teas. So I asked about to several tea friends online and found out that Mr. Harney had passed away on Monday, June 16, 2014.
You all might be wondering why I’m bummed out about some “tea guy”. After all this isn’t a tea blog at all. Well, funny thing is that if it weren’t for John Harney there would be no Gal In the Grey Hat! Truth. I met Mr. Harney in October 2011 at World Tea East (in Philadelphia) which was a scaled down version of the World Tea Expo (held on the West Coast). I had quit my job a few weeks prior and was going to find out all I could about tea in order to properly start my business. I met a lot of people at the event. But meeting John Harney….well, he was larger than life. Always with a smile to welcome anyone that happened past their booth. He reminded me of my Pop, very warm, welcoming. Meeting him felt a lot like coming home in a way.
As I stopped back to say goodbye on the final day of the event he told me “give me a call, we’ll give you a tour.” I thought to my self, no some poor sucker in the factory will be stuck giving me a tour. But I called, I figured it would be a nice road trip for my husband and I. Plus tea (I drink a lot of tea.) When we arrived at the factory I told the nice woman in reception who we were and why we were there and she asked that I go through the door and to my left to wait and our guide would be along shortly.
While we waited John’s son Mike came by and chatted with us, and he remembered my name too. Which was very nice indeed. Then out pops John Harney asking if I was ready for my tour! Well, color me surprised that the founder of Harney and Sons was going to give me and my husband the grand tour of the place! It was an awesome tour. He even dumped a few handfuls of prepackaged tea in my bag (typical grandpa move).
Ok right, so what does John Harney have to do with Gal In The Grey Hat? Fast forward to 2012 and my second visit to World Tea East (again in Philly). It was near our anniversary so I dragged the mister along with me. The night before the event began I made an impule purchase at the Gap of all places and got this:
That’s right, the grey hat was purchased. Naturally I had to wear it the next day…and I did.
One of the first booths I dragged my mister too was H & S. Once again John and Mike welcomed me with hellos and hugs. I even helped out sorting their name tags and the like while John made me tea and Mike (knowing my mister was not a tea fan) grabbed him a bottle (yeah a BOTTLE) of their iced tea to ‘just try’. But I’ll never forget what John told me about the new hat…”It doesn’t always have to be about the tea, plus I love that hat. Do something with it.”
A few short months later this little blog was born. My new renewed goal is to do what John Harney asked me to do in 2012…to do something with this blog. More posts? One of these days a book? Who knows, but I know this I will certainly do something with this here blog that would make John Harney proud. I’m also going to go enjoy a glass of their Pomegranate Oolong (irony is this was the tea he gave me loads of when I visited the factory) made from one of their ice tea pouches.