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Photo courtesy of Harney & Sons

Drinking hot tea may be the preferred choice for cold winter months, but now there’s even more reason to choose this steaming beverage: a new specialty blend that celebrates diabetes history while raising money for the cause.

In this milestone 100-year anniversary of insulin’s discovery in 1921, a New York family business with a personal connection to type 1 diabetes (T1D) has developed a commemorative tea, with a tin featuring insulin co-discoverers, Drs. Frederick Banting and Charles Best.

“We wanted to celebrate what they did for people with diabetes, so many years ago,” said D-Dad Mike Harney, vice president of Harney & Sons and the company’s “master tea buyer and blender”

These people know tea — it’s been their family business for nearly four decades. In fact, they’ve changed the face of high-quality specialty teas in the United States.

Based in eastern New York, near the Connecticut state line, Harney & Sons was founded in 1983 by John Harney.

It’s a well-known brand focusing on high quality loose and herbal teas, and it’s found in many hotels, restaurants, and shops (like Barnes & Noble) across the U.S.

They also have two physical “tasting bar shops” in the state of New York. They offer well over 300 types of tea, and this latest Banting & Best version is one of many other collectable tins of specialty “cause teas” they sell.

But the Banting & Best Blend launched in February 2021 is company’s first diabetes-themed tea ever — and it’s also their very first where 100 percent of the proceeds go to a charitable cause.

In a phone interview with DiabetesMine, Harney shared that his son, Bert, developed T1D during his mid-20s a few years ago.

There was no family history of the illness before his diagnosis, and it caught the family off guard — especially given the young man’s athletic accomplishments in competitive rowing through the years.

Mike Harney

The family lives in Connecticut, where Harney became involved with the local American Diabetes Association (ADA) chapter. He was eventually connected to the UK-based organization T1International, via insulin affordability advocate Minnesota D-Mom Lija Greenseid.

Those relationships led Harney to develop this diabetes-themed line for his specialty series of teas, where proceeds are donated to charitable causes. In this case, Banting & Best tea proceeds are going directly to ADA and T1International.

A naturally-flavored black tea, the Banting & Best Blend has a cinnamon and apple spice flavor, similar to hot cinnamon spiced tea most popular during the holidays.

Harvey points out it tastes sweet, but contains no sweetener — an important point for people with diabetes, who will want to enjoy this tea without experiencing blood sugar spikes due to added sugar.

Keep in mind that most black tea does contain caffeine, and can impact blood sugars just like coffee does — even without any added sweeteners or cream. But overall, tea is considered a healthy option for those with diabetes.

The Banting & Best Blend comes in a tin that contains 20 whole-leaf tea bags. It can be purchased for $12 through the company’s online store.

The tin itself is light blue, a nod to the universal color for diabetes, and is adorned with an August 1921 image of the main two insulin co-discoverers, Banting and Best, along with one of their research canines, often identified as the dog Marjorie.

All of that was an important aspect in launching this Banting & Best Blend, Harney explains.

Dedicated to Banting & Best…

“100 years ago, two Canadian scientists, Frederic Banting and Charles Best, discovered insulin and later sold their patent for $1 as their ‘gift to the world.’ Insulin regulates our blood sugar levels but the price of insulin has skyrocketed for those who rely on the medication to stay alive. To honor their discovery, this naturally flavored tea tastes sweet but has no sweetener. All proceeds support people with diabetes. We raise a cup to our beneficiaries; The American Diabetes Association and T1International.”

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Before his son’s T1D diagnosis, Harney says that customers would share feedback through the years about wanting to buy a “diabetes-friendly” tea for themselves or family members that wouldn’t have much impact on glucose levels.

That desire really hit home once Bertram was diagnosed. Harney wanted to focus on reducing glucose impact with this new product, without compromising taste and quality.

“This is a good way to stay stimulated if you’re living with diabetes” he said.

In just the first four weeks of sales, Harney & Sons raised $2,000 for the cause. The company also offers shoppers a chance to “round-up” their bill to the next dollar, with the difference going to charity.

“What they did has been around for 100 years now, so maybe we’ll keep this tea around for 100 years,” Harney said with a laugh.

To encourage folks to try the tea, Harney & Sons has generously offered to pick up the cost of a tin of Banting & Best Blend for TWO LUCKY WINNERS. To enter:

  1. Email us at with the subject “DM-Tea.” You can also ping us on Twitter or our Facebook page using the same code word. For shipping purposes, we must limit the giveaway to those with mailing addresses within the United States.
  2. You have until 5 p.m. PST on Friday, March 12, to enter.
  3. The winner will be chosen using
  4. We’ll announce the winner on Monday, March 15, via social media, so please be sure to keep tabs on your email, Facebook, and Twitter messages, as that’s how we’ll contact our winner. If the winner doesn’t respond within a week, we’ll select an alternate.

Once chosen, we’ll update this post with the winner’s name. Good luck, D-Friends!