I opened the menu and almost choked. I am accustomed to paying a premium for Belgium Beers – where the average beer sets you back £3-£6. But I am not used to paying those prices for a cup of tea, no matter how special it is supposed to be. But, in for a penny in for a pound, we took a look at the menu.
The decor is a little warehouse like, and bigger than I had anticipated, but still felt vibrant. This is certainly not a place that does anything by half measures, that is for sure!
We had each made our selection. I didn’t think it was the kind of place where you would order a cup of “builder’s brew”, so I decided to try something I had never had before: a cup of chai. Lisa was even more adventurous. She had some “Heart of Love Blooming Flower” tea … which would set us back £4.85 a cup! For that price I would expect full silver service and a personal butler. This tea had quite some living up to, to do.
When the tea arrives, you can’t move for all the cups and pots and jugs and timers. Yes, you read that right: “timers”!
So let me explain: each tea comes with a “brewing pot”, and then a “pouring pot”. As soon as you add the tea to the water, you set one of the timers to ensure your tea brews for the optimal time. Some should brew for 3, 4 or 5 minutes. I think I have a 4-minuter, whereas Lisa’s pretentious tea was a 5-minuter. As soon as the optimal brewing time is reached, you are supposed to decant your tea from the “brewing pot” into the “pouring pot”, to avoid it from brewing any longer.
Now, my tea was relatively ordinary. Nothing too unusual about it. The chai flavours were subtle, but refreshing. I couldn’t get myself to pour in all the hot milk or add a lot of honey, so I guess I was still afraid of the full experience. Perhaps next time.
Lisa, on the other hand went all the way with her break-the-bank tea. They told her it was quite floral, and as she enjoys rose scented tea, that sounded appealing. However, when it arrived, it was what looked like nothing other than a dried flower that’s been vacuum packed. The waitress helped release the flower from the packaging which would otherwise have caused package rage … and instructions were communicated. You were to insert the flower into the tea until it has fully opened or for 5 minutes on the timer.
Well, the flower didn’t ever seem to fully open in spite of Lisa’s vigorous stirring and prodding. Not sure that was part of the instructions! It certainly didn’t look like what we’d call tea. The water had not discoloured, and in my opinion had a feint smell of sewage about it. Lisa insists that I am mistaken, and that it was green tea like, and quite nice. As I don’t like green tea, I certainly wouldn’t rush back and have it in a hurry!
So all in all, what is the verdict? I liked the experience. It’s a little different and possibly pretentious, but in a nice way, if that makes sense.
Would I go back? Yes. I would go when I have a bit more time so that I can have my free refill! Get my money’s worth that way. And maybe try a cake.
Final question: how on earth can the place be so full of students? Aren’t they supposed to be skint?
If you’re keen to visit, you’ll find it at 55 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1NA.
Their website is pretty good and includes menus, contact details, events and specials