Tea for you and me

Join me on my epic quest to find the best tea ever

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Ancoats Coffee Co.

Unit 9, Royal Mills, 17 Redhill Street, Ancoats, M4 5BA

Visited on: 27th August 2016


The inside/outside area at Ancoats Coffee Co.

I know, I know, going to drink tea somewhere that calls itself a coffee company is bound to end in trouble, but I was with people who wanted to drink coffee. And that’s fine, I used to drink coffee too (just not as much as I drank tea). Plus, the whole reason we were in Ancoats in the first place was that H had mentioned how good the pizza was at Rudy’s Pizza was and I wanted to try it (it was very, very good).

H had heard about Ancoats Coffee Co. and how it had good coffee. So off we went. It’s in a converted mill, with seating inside and seating inside/outside – outside the coffee shop but underneath a glass roof, in what would have been a courtyard in the mill.


The cappuccinos and the biscuits.

We ordered our drinks: H had a decaf cappuccino (and wasn’t impressed when they charged an extra 50p for decaf without that being obviously listed on the menu or being warned about it first) and E had a normal cappuccino. I tried to have rooibos, but I think now rooibos tea has become so mainstream that Tetley sell it, it’s too mainstream for hipster Manchester – I couldn’t get rooibos in any of the places we went in during this visit. I ended up having red berry and hibiscus on the advice of the guy who served us. We also had two lavender and lemon biscuits – one for me and one for E and H to share.

The biscuit was delicious, sweet and light and with a lovely lemon icing. E and H said that their coffee was very good. My tea was, well, not really my cup of tea. It came in a tea pot, so that was good, but it also came with an empty carafe and a wine glass with honey on the inside. I don’t take sugar with my tea and wouldn’t have ordered a biscuit if I’d known that the tea would come with honey. Anyway, I tried it as it was. I quite like the idea of having the carafe to pour the tea into once the tea is strong enough, but the tea itself was quite bitter. You needed the honey to offset the bitterness. The issue with having the honey in the glass is that the first glass of tea is very sweet and the last glass of tea is not sweet at all. I didn’t finish it. It’s my own fault really, I know I don’t particularly like red berry style fruit teas, but I wanted a cup of tea.

Overall verdict? We liked the space and E and H liked their coffee, but we would have liked a little more information before ordering. I would have liked to know the tea would come with honey and H would have liked to know that having decaf coffee would be an extra 50p (H would have had a normal coffee if that had been explained).

  • Teapot? Yes, and a carafe too. First time I’ve ever been given both.
  • Leaf tea? Yes. Well, I suppose technically it wasn’t tea, but it was a loose infusion.
  • Milk jug? No milk with this beverage.
  • Price? £2.70 for the infusion/tea, £1.50 for the biscuit and £3.20 for the coffee (I think, not too sure of the coffee price as I wasn’t drinking it).
  • Cake? Yes and brownies and biscuits.
  • Go again? No. Not unless I was with people who really wanted coffee.

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teacup on thomas street

55 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1NA   (View on map)

Four teapots, three egg timers, two cups and one saucer at teacup

I’m not entirely sure if teacup on thomas street is called ‘teacup on thomas street’ or ‘teacup’, as the website logo seems to think the former but the large sign in the window when I went just said ‘teacup’. Either way, it was a good idea of E’s and a good place to go. It’s not far from the equally lovely North Tea Power, so if you’re going to Manchester then you may as well check out both places.

It seems to be owned by Mr Scruff, who also owns the make us a brew! tea brand, and has an excellent range of tea. It’s also the only place I’ve ever been where your tea is served with an egg timer and an empty teapot. When the tea has reached the right strength (as indicated by the egg timer) then you pour it into the empty pot so it doesn’t get any stronger. When we went it was busy and cheerful and though there weren’t many spare tables we didn’t feel rushed or hurried. It was a very relaxed atmosphere.

Romantic rosebuds.

I had the Organic Pink Rose Buds, just because I’d not seen this on a menu before. I’ve had tea with rose petals in, but not one just made of rosebuds. E had the Earl Grey (her first choice was Darjeeling Second Flush but they had run out).

My tea was very light, very soothing and just what I felt like. E said her tea was good tea. I also enjoyed the strange transparent plastic pots and the confusing double cup which meant the area that could hold tea was smaller than the cup and I was in constant danger of pouring hot liquid all over myself. I don’t think this is a negative point of the cafe you understand, it just illustrates my state of mind that day.

The cup of confusion.

We also had some cake.

I have to own up now and confess I’m writing this review almost a month after it took place, work and other things have been so busy this is the first chance I’ve had. I also have to admit that I’d just been to a hen party weekend and was very tired and I did something I never normally do – I forgot to take notes! This means that I remember the cake and I remember it was good, but I don’t remember what it was called. I think mine was banana and walnut and E thinks hers was carrot and orange, but we can’t be sure. You’ll just have to go and try it for yourself!

Hearty cake and delicate tea.

Teapot? Yes, not just one each, but two each!
Leaf tea? Yup.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £3.55 for rosebuds, £3.65 for the Earl Grey, £3 something for each piece of cake.
Cake? Yes, surprisingly filling and solid compared to normal versions of the same cakes, but in a satisfying way.
Go again? Yes.

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Jam Street Cafe

209 Upper Chorlton Road, Manchester, M16 0BH   0161 881 9944   (View on map)

All manner of good breakfast things at Jam Street Cafe.

Jam Street Cafe is a small cafe bar that has recently started opening for breakfast. It has big wooden tables, an outside seating area and a cellar seating area. Even when we went at 8am it had a good atmosphere and was playing great music. I would love to go again in an evening and see what it was like with more people around.

Tea was in a mug with the milk added, nice and strong for a morning wake-up. I had a breakfast bap – sausage, egg and bacon – and it was the best breakfast bap I’ve ever had. All the elements were cooked to perfection and the sausages were the good herby meaty ones rather than the pappy fatty ones that you sometimes get. H had an egg bap with mushrooms and a cappuccino. We both had some juice as well, just to make ourselves feel a bit healthier – H had cranberry and I had orange. An excellent breakfast.

Teapot? Not sure, tea arrived ready made.
Leaf tea? Not sure, but probably not.
Milk jug? Came with milk in already.
Price? £3.50 for the breakfast bap, £2 something for egg and mushroom bap, £1.20 for the tea. Not sure about the price of the juice.
Cake? No.
Go again? Yes.

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Sweet Tooth Cupcakery re-visited

Cupcakes, tea and cappuccino at Sweeth Tooth Cupcakery.

I’ve already reviewed the Sweet Tooth Cupcakery, but we went again as it’s just that good. This time I had an Edith Piaf (chocolate sponge, cream cheese frosting and a glittery strawberry) with a pot of Earl Grey tea and H had a Kylie (vanilla sponge and pink glittery frosting with a gold thing on top) and a cappuccino.

Worth visiting if you’re in the area. And they now do chocolate brownies and other cake as well as just the cupcakes.

I love the way this cupcake looks against this plate. And a glitter-tipped strawberry too.


North Tea Power

36 Tib Street, Manchester, M4 1LA   (View on map)

The inside of North Tea Power, look at all the different types of tea on the wall.

LB suggested this place as somewhere to meet up as she’d heard about it and thought it would go well on the blog. She was right. North Tea Power is tucked away in the Northern Quarter but has a very good selection of loose leaf tea and – and this is the bit that makes it so great – have adapted their coffee machine to take tea. This sounds mad, but I am telling you now that black tea latte is the future.

We started with loose tea though, as the coffee-styled tea was a bit too much for us at 11am on a Sunday morning. I had Earl Grey Blue and LB had White Hairy Monkey, which is a white tea. LB had not tried white tea before but declared it was good. Both were fragrant and tasted of the tea rather than the pot – perhaps this is because they were served in glass cafetieres?A croissant was the food of choice for LB, but I went for a slice of the ‘Lumberjack’ cake. This was a date and apple cake topped with coconut that I would certainly have again. Filling and moreish.

Croissant, white tea, Earl Grey Blue and the mighty Lumberjack cake at North Tea Power.

After the tea and food we went back to the counter and ordered a black tea latte each. We could have had a tea mocha, a tea cappucino or a tea americano. I just wasn’t brave enough to try the tea mocha. It seemed very wrong at the time, but now I wonder if it would have had the combined comfort of a chocolate biscuit and a cup of tea.

My first mouthful of tea latte was strange and confusing. My brain said ‘coffee’ and my mouth said ‘tea’ and it took a few sips to reconcile my senses to the shock of a smooth frothy drink that didn’t have the bitter kick of coffee, but instead had the reassuring soothing quality of a cup of tea when it’s most needed. LB announced that she had found her new perfect drink.

LB's 'new perfect drink' - tea latte at North Tea Power.

I will be going here again the next time I’m in Manchester and this time I will try the tea mocha. If you want to have a strong cup of tea but need the frothy milk that goes with a good coffee, North Tea Power is the place to go. A brilliant retreat on a rainy Sunday morning.

Teapot? Yes, but one of those glass cafetieres rather than a traditional teapot.
Leaf tea? Yes, with the choice of having it made into a drink or buying a bag full to take home.
Milk jug? Big retro style milk bottle.
Price? £2 for the Earl Grey Blue, £2.20 for the White Hairy Monkey, £2.60 for the Lumberjack cake, £1.20 (I think) for croissant and jam. £2.20 for the tea latte.
Cake? Yes, and biscuits, sandwiches, tray bakes etc.
Go again? Yes.

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The Lowry Hotel

50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, Manchester, M3 5LH   (View on map)

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This was a special afternoon tea tasting trip with the usual suspects of H, E and N. H and E had organised this visit and N and I had chosen not to be told where we were going, but instead it was going to be a surprise. This suited me fine (once I’d checked the dress code and the price) as I like surprises. Perhaps because I didn’t know beforehand, or just because it’s a very stylish hotel, I got a bit snap happy and took lots of photos.

Before heading to The Lowry Hotel we had looked round the craft and design gallery of the Manchester Art Gallery. This had dozens of beautiful teapots as well as other beautiful yet useful things. I appreciated the design care The Lowry Hotel had put into their afternoon tea surroundings and food all the more after seeing the gallery.

Stylish as it was, the lack of carpet and liking for chrome meant the room was very noisy and this meant we couldn’t hear each other properly at times, but never mind. The Ritz‘s love of plush upholstery and thick carpet is justified. And they had sugar cubes – The Lowry only had sugar packets.

The menu was already on the table when we sat down and our first thought was ‘this is not enough tea’. The menu gave of a choice of about seven types of tea and only three of those were black tea. The choices were Earl Grey, Breakfast blend and an Afternoon blend (described as 50% Assam, 50% Darjeeling). H prefers a lighter tea and would usually have a Darjeeling. She ordered the Afternoon blend and found it too strong.

We sometimes have trouble with an equal amount of sandwiches as H and N are vegetarians, E will eat fish but not meat and I eat everything. The Lowry coped without any trouble and presented us with ham, salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, Lancashire cheese and tomato and egg – all to the correct people. I think H and N also had a hummus sandwich.

Scones were small and lovely with enough jam and cream to go round. The cake course had a raspberry and white chocolate cake, a passion fruit tart and a pistachio and chocolate mousse. They were all delicious, my only grumble was that the spoon we were given to eat the mousse with was too big to get all of the mousse out of the glass it was served in. A variety of methods were employed to try and get this last bit of extremely good mousse out and the favoured technique was turning the spoon upside down and using the handle. It’s not good table manners, but when there’s chocolate at stake…

All in all a reasonably good afternoon tea and the restaurant was decorated in my favourite colours so I was happy.

Teapot? Yes, but the three of us drinking the afternoon blend had to share a teapot that looked like a coffee pot. And we had to ask for hot water.
Leaf tea? Yes.
Milk jug? Yes, but only one between four so we had to ask for a refill.
Price? £19.95 each, but with service charge automatically added so it brought it to just under £22 each.
Cake? Yes.
Go again? Yes.


Sweet Tooth Cupcakery

9a Oswald Road, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 9LP.

The wide range of cupcakes on offer at Sweet Tooth Cupcakery

The wide range of cupcakes on offer at Sweet Tooth Cupcakery

H had romised to take me to a very special tea shop. That tea shop was Sweet Tooth Cupcakery.

This small but perfectly formed tea shop has everything I could wish for. The decor is stylish and quirky, with vintage boxes and tins on shelves around the walls and transfers of 1950s housewives in the kitchen. The crockery is all vintage and elegant. As the name suggests the only cake they sell is a cupcake, but oh, what a cupcake!

All the cupcakes are named after famous people, so I chose a Rita Hayworth and H had a Dita von Teese. There were around 15 different cupcakes to choose from and all looked gorgeous.

Tea, coffee and cupcakes at Sweet Tooth Cupcakery

Tea, coffee and cupcakes at Sweet Tooth Cupcakery

The tea came in a perfect little teapot, with yellow milk jug and sugar bowl.

The tea was good and the cupcakes so impressive that this needs to go into the top 5 places to drink tea. Go here if you are ever within visiting distance and go early or all the cupcakes will be gone. It’s only open Thursday to Sunday so plan your visit well!

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? I was so overwhelmed by the cupcakes I can’t remember, I think tea bags though.
Milk jug? Big milk jug.
Price? £6.70 for a tea, a cappucino and two cupcakes.
Cake? Cupcakes a go go!
Go again? Yes.

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Contact Theatre Lounge Bar

Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6JA.

Tea and cake at the Contact Theatre

Tea and cake at the Contact Theatre

We went to the Contact Theatre to see the play Medea, which was very good. Afterwards we headed to the bar for tea and cake. H works near to the theatre so she knew they had good cake on display in a glass cabinet. We arrived in the cafe bar and to our horror the glass cabinet was empty!

Not to be deterred, H asked if there was any cake left. Sure enough the bartender found a chocolate brownie and a slice of chocolate cake in the fridge and we happily agreed to share.

They had a variety of different tea bags, but only a choice between Breakfast and Earl Grey or many different varieties of fruit tea.

The Contact Theatre Lounge Bar was comfy, friendly and relaxed. I liked it.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Big milk jug.
Price? £1 for tea, £6.50 for 3 teas and two bits of cake.
Cake? Yes, larger range in the daytime.
Go again? Yes.

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70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5NH

Tea at Cornerhouse

Tea at Cornerhouse

The Cornerhouse is, in a feat of logical naming rarely seen in the modern world, on a corner. It has three art galleries, two bars and a bookshop, with a cinema across the road on the opposite corner. I chose the upstairs cafe bar as it was the one that served food and this usually means a better chance of getting some tea.

I’d been lazy and decided to get the bus from Manchester Piccadily station to the Cornerhouse, rather than walk the length of the station and have a five minute train journey to the Manchester Oxford Road station, which is next door to the Cornerhouse. My laziness was my downfall and an hour later after two long and circular bus journeys I arrived. If ever I was in need of tea it was then.

The upstairs bar looked very bar like, but then I spied jars of large teapigs teabags and knew everything was going to be okay. Teapigs teabags are large tea bags made of gauze, not paper, and they have whole loose leaves inside them (most tea bags have chopped up bits of tea leaves, open one up and have a look). It was good but I was still grumpy about my self-inflicted bus journey confusion. I drank my tea and for the sake of economy didn’t order another.

Then a miraculous thing happened – a waitress came over with another mug of tea. Did I want it? It had been made by mistake and she’d remembered that I’d been drinking tea and thought I might like it. I could have it for free, think of it as happy hour.

I took the tea gratefully. Any busy bar that has a waitress that thoughtful gets the thumbs up from me. Plus the tea was really rather nice.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No, but excellent tea bags.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.45.
Cake? Small selection.
Go again? Yes.