Opportunities for a first-rate cup of tea accompanied by quality food are plentiful in Manchester’s Northern Quarter – home to some of the city’s most noted drinking and eating establishments. Hours can be spent browsing the vintage clothing stores, small art galleries and record shops that dominate the area. But where to go for the ultimate rejuvenating breather and beautifully brewed beverage? We give you our comprehensive insight into the top tea places you really need to try.
Teacup, 55 Thomas Street, M4 1NA
A Northern Quarter must-visit for fabulous tea, food and ambience. Sitting here having tea and brunch with an old friend one Saturday, I swiftly put aside all niggles for a while and feel thoroughly content. True, at busy points you’ll probably have to wait ten minutes or so before being shown to one of their checked tablecloth-covered tables and pale blue wooden chairs. But use the time to peruse the tea and food menus – as well as Mr Scruff’s personalised range of teapots and other such goods on display (the noted DJ and tea lover owns the place) – and before you know it the wait will be over.
Tea is a serious matter here – loose leaf infusions are served in elegant glass pots and tiny handleless glass cups, allowing for slower drinking and maximum appreciation of the delicate flavours. Their Organic Pink Rosebuds tea in particular is a gorgeous sight to behold (and to quaff). In addition, the old reliable staples such as Earl Grey and English Breakfast are presented with just as much pride in attractive coloured china pots, complete with tea strainers and matching cups. And just to make sure you really get the most out of your beautiful beverage, mini hourglasses timing three, four and five minutes brewing time are provided, complete with clear, friendly advice from the waiting staff.
Food served is comforting, unpretentious and appetising. It ranges from sweet baked goods to fabulous breakfast and thickly filled sandwiches and mains. We love the Superfood Porridge and Eggs Royale (essentially Eggs Benedict but with smoked salmon). The mains include a pie of the day served with mash and peas, five-bean veggie chilli, and a new “Meatball Menu”. All of which make a lovely spot that deserves its popularity. Thoroughly recommended.
North Tea Power, 36 Tib Street, M4 1LA
White walls and chunky wooden tables prevail here, with a serious collection of teas exhibited in glass jars across a long shelf by the counter. Loose leaf black – the Assam is my favourite, white, oolong, green – my friend Steve recommends the Gunpowder infusion, and herbal teas are served in one-person cafeterias with thick round white china cups and saucers. This combination of hearty china and exquisitely infused tea leaves is strangely pleasing. A delicious selection of cakes and biscuits are also on offer here, together with various savoury delights – slightly pricier but worth the investment.
The only slight downside is that, certainly at weekends, you may have to hover a bit before you find a seat; North Tea Power is very popular but not palatial in size. Saying that, you can often just perch on the end of the larger centre table, and no one will mind in the slightest. All in all, this is a great place to go with a book, for a post-Afflecks Palace cuppa or simply for a good catch-up with friends.
Earth Cafe, 16-20 Turner Street, M4 1DZ
Down the otherwise unassuming Turner Street is where you’ll find this basement vegetarian and tea/juice-drinker haven. But don’t for a second assume that veggie equals boring at Earth Cafe, it really doesn’t.
Fair trade and locally- and ethically-sourced produce is the order of the day here, and the end result is a highly enticing, mouth-watering menu. Numerous detoxing organic bagged and loose leaf teas are proudly displayed – try the apple and cinnamon infusion, its lovely – and provide the perfect complement to the food on offer.
Choose your desired combination from the buffet of smaller dishes and salads, daily-changing mains and accompanying sides. These could include a hearty plate of rice and thick, homemade dhal, delicious veggie stew, sweet potato soup, roasted vegetables or many others.
Unfalteringly friendly staff, free Wi-Fi and a cosy canteen-style service make this a thoroughly relaxing, enjoyable place for a plate of hot food and a soothing cuppa (do try their juices and smoothies as well – they are divine). I defy you not to leave with a spring in your step and chilled mindset.