I’ve been struggling to think of an opening line which truly justifies the magnificence of this establishment. The business plan is flawless; the Quilliam brothers are giving the people what they want in the most tremendous fashion: tea and cake 17 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Quilliam Brothers tea house was founded a little under a year ago by three brothers from Wylam, Northumberland. It is situated on the edge of the Newcastle University city centre campus and boasts more than 60 different kinds of tea as well as a mouth-watering selection of pastries and cakes available all day (and night) long. As I have visited this place several times a week since my discovery, I’m dying to share a few details about why I think this is one of Newcastle’s greatest hidden gems.
Upon entering, we were greeted by an incredibly friendly and enthusiastic staff member, who presented us with ring binder files full of tea and showed us downstairs to the exquisitely cosy basement. We immediately decided to ignore our stiff twenty-something bones and took a pew on some cushions on the floor in the deepest darkest corner.
The best time to visit is during the evening, particularly on weekdays as it is at its most quiet and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch one of their many film screenings in the cinema room. They also offer a Creative Writing masterclass on a Monday night, held by local award-winning author Victoria Watson, with an opportunity to discuss and work in a group as well as on a one-to-one basis. This tea house is truly a breeding ground for creative activity.
I cannot give the staff enough credit: they are polite, attentive and seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs – a rarity in the hospitality industry these days. The tea room can get incredibly busy at peak times (such as Saturday lunch times and late afternoons on weekdays), yet the staff are always perky and on the ball. You rarely wait long for a table, and once you’re sat (or lying) down, it’s totally worth it.
In terms of teas, we’ve only tried a fraction of the ones on offer. My personal favourite is Pep Up, a herbal blend of lemongrass, lemon, ginger and liquorice. It is also important to note that the green tea here is so superb, that it will make your Asda smart price tea bags seem incredibly disappointing forever more.
I’d also like to give the Chocolate and Banana cake an honorary mention (pictured above); this divine creation is completely vegan and has a wonderfully, for want of a better word, moist consistency and is smothered in ganache-style icing. A thousand percent worth the visit alone.
Once you’ve finally decided you’re ready to brave the wide world, or you’re getting kicked out because it’s closing time, just head up to the counter to pay. At the till you’ll spy a brief snippet of the tea alchemy at work as the brothers buzz about their little tea hive, sorting through shelves upon shelves of tea and all with a smile on their faces.
Quilliam Brothers is a truly unique venture that everyone in Newcastle, and the rest of the UK, must experience.