24/02/17: Harney & Sons research.

I am now moving onto looking at three different tea companies in order to compare the criteria their packaging designs. I hope to find some commonalities that would suggest what makes for a practical package. 


The first company I am exploring is Harney and Sons. After having a look around on the official ‘Harney and Sons’ website, as well as another source, I have unraveled that John Harney was in fact the owner of White Hart Inn, located in Salisbury, Connecticut. Harney first discovered his palette for tea through that of his neighbor, Stanley Mason. Mason was an English-born man, and owner of Sarum Tea. Once Mason introduced his tea blends to Harney, a love affair for exotic aromatic flavours began – drawing Harney into learning more about the business of making fine blends. He would serve these teas to his inn guests and this is essentially where and how it all began. Now, Harney and Sons is a global business, selling to premium quality venues – you will not find Harneys tea in your local supermarket for they wish to remain true to their ethos of a ‘high quality, fine tea’.

An excerpt from their website clearly states their vision as a business: ‘Harney & Sons are in the business of making tea an everyday luxury item.  With a story dating back to 1960, three generations of the Harney family continue to preserve John’s tradition of fine tea, travelling the world in search of the finest ingredients. We present you with New Zealand’s most premium tea experience.’

‘…Harney’s high quality loose leaf teas are presented in exquisite packages, turning an ordinary cuppa into a sensory experience.  Whether it’s rare white teas, oolongs, black teas, Chinese or Japanese greens or herbal infusions you enjoy, you’ll find it here.  Choose from over 100 different fine teas in loose leaf, luxury silken pyramid sachets, individually wrapped teabags, iced teas and blooming ‘art’ teas -available for foodservice and in exquisitely packaged keep-sake tea caddies.  Harney & Sons is found in luxury hotels, restaurants, high tea venues, cafes, spas and salons, gourmet food stores, smart department stores and gift shops across New Zealand.’


Harney and Sons have an array of teas available for purchase, (as seen here: http://www.harneyteas.co.nz/product/tea-collections.php) however I will only be analysing these three collections below.

H&S packaging examples.jpg


Firstly, lets look into the “Historic Royal Blends” tins. According to the small description that accompanies this series, Harney and Sons were ‘invited by the Historic Royal Palaces in England to create a distinguished line of English tea blends.’ These tins form a hexagonal shape with flat geometric planes. Atop rests a spherical lid, somewhat like a crowning centrepiece. These design decisions were made in order to represent that of a jewel to therefore express an air of royalty. Each box displays deep, rich jewel-like colours such as this emerald green tin here; or the ruby red of ‘Royal English Breakfast’ or amethyst purple of ‘Tower of London’. Each tin is decorated in beautiful curvilinear embellishments, which draw me into thinking of the ‘art nouveau’ period. This is simply because was a decorative art era where aesthetics and commodity items were greatly celebrated and enjoyed. And of course, the typography and logo are kept consistent across the collection of tins in order to draw them in as one graphic entity.

thas_31604_-00_harney-and-sons-african-autumn-herbal-tea-20-teabagsHere is a tin from the “HT Tea Blends”  range. This series of tea is all about the more exotic and unique blends of tea produced by the company. They have chosen to design a standard tin shape that will easily interact with its environment. Having a rectangular shape allows for the tin to be stored away in pantries and cabinets with ease. The flat lidded surface also allows for stackability. The smooth, flat surfacing provides clear readability of the typography on front. These tines are also decorated with a shared paisley-like pattern. The use of colour is wide and varied in this tin series, but their commonality is that the colour seems to be used in a way that represents the ingredients of the tea. This ‘African Autumn’ tin a rich, warm orange – which I immediately connote with the dry earth and scorching heat of Africa. The tea contains that of  red bush, with cranberry and orange.


This ‘Paris’ tin is from the “Classic in Sachets” series. The blends in this range are all about tradition. These tins seem to follow the same design principles as the HT’s in terms of their shape and size. These tins also use colour to distinguish the flavours from one another. Once again the tins are bordered with pattern. The oval shape draws our eye into the text while the outer elements hold in the framework of the design piece.

Some common elements and principles to the designs would be:

Balance and movement are established through line, which is drawn through that of the patterns on the front surfaces. This draws the eye into a main focal point – the resting type content within. Their forms are of flat rectangular planes and the overall shape is very geometric and not curvilinear. The colour choices on each design harmonise with one another -deep green, light green or blue and white etc. This creates a regal air to the design, as sense of balance and harmony. Type and logo are kept consistent across all of the tins, however are used in different ways in order to fulfil their overall look that each particular tin series is attempting to communicate: royalty, exoticism and tradition.


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