When one of my closest friends suggested coming over to Newcastle from Durham for tea and cake this week, I had absolutely no difficulty choosing where to take her for a good ol’ pot of tea, and baked goods that will impress. While there are many coffee shops in the toon, we have a distinct lack of tearooms! Yet, the tearooms and teahouses that we are lucky enough to have here are all fabulous and unique.
Quite a few years ago now, the Quilliam brothers themselves decided to set up a teahouse in the centre of Newcastle, from which they could brew the finest quality tea and serve it to the public along with hot meals, sandwiches and sweet treats. Originally from the beautiful village of Wylam along the River Tyne, the brothers wanted to recreate a Budapest-style teahouse with more than a drop of culture. I’ve been going to the teahouse by the Haymarket since my school days, with friends, family and even for an English Literature A Level class! I leave neither hungry or disappointed, and this week’s visit was no exception.
With over 60 different loose leaf tea blends to choose from, reading the menu at Quilliam Brothers’ is an experience in itself! I eventually settled for the house Afternoon Blend, and my lunch date chose a lovely, floral Jasmine Tea – both were delicious. If the tea you’ve ordered isn’t sweet enough, there’s already honey on the table waiting for you! Another little touch that we appreciated was the fact that, unlike a lot of tearooms, the tea leaves are removed from the teapot before the tea is served to you. This way, the tea-drinker can finish the whole pot of tea without encountering any stray leaves or bitterness (one pitfall is that if you get carried away talking like we did, your pot of tea might go cold and you have to order another!)
For those of you who have never tried a stottie before, then I suggest you head to either Greggs or the Quilliam Brothers Teahouse, who fill these floury bread cakes with all sorts of gorgeous things including beef brisket with burger sauce, pulled pork or Mexican bean chilli! These hot sandwiches come with the most delicious roasted new potatoes, smothered in just the right amount with salt and herbs, and a fresh green salad. Lunchtime bliss! If you have room for dessert, then I’d strongly recommend checking out their fantastic selection of fresh baked goods, which are displayed in a cabinet by the counter. On the day we visited, there was everything from toffee apple scones, to mocha cake and an array of brownies. We settled for an indulgent caramel chocolate brownie, and a white chocolate and raspberry blondie which finished off our ‘ladies who lunch’ experience perfectly.
It is worth following the Quilliam Brothers’ Teahouse on social media, to keep up to date with the great events they put on in their cinema room and gallery. Hidden away in the cosy, ‘hyggelig’, cushion-scattered basement of the teahouse, is a fantastically retro cinema room, where film nights take place from time to time. Not only is this the perfect venue for lunch, but it’s a really cool place to hang out in the evening with family, friends or your other half – their website advertises how this teahouse allows you to, “drink tea way past your bedtime,” which I think is brilliant! No doubt I’ll be returning for pots of tea and stotties for a long, long time.
Pro(s): Excellent tea selection, freshly baked goods and hot stotties make for a thoroughly enjoyable lunchtime retreat. Friendly staff and an utterly cool teahouse environment just add to this.
Con(s): Busy at lunchtime for good reason!