Quilliam Brothers Tea House in Newcastle has been a popular tea-lover hide out since its arrival in 2013. Striving to expand the tea experience in the North East, their city-central tea house brings inspirations from Hungary, India, China and Germany under one roof, offering an extensive tea menu of over 60 tea leaves concoctions, as well as a reasonable range of coffees, able to satisfy every lover of hot drinks.
Having quickly become a frequent visitor, I have to say there isn’t much I dislike about Quilliam’s. It is a homely blend of an old, victorian-styled cafe mixed with a continental cafe-culture with its night owl opening times, offering Newcastle a different type of social late-night drinking. Complete with subtle quirky touches like the teaspoon chandeliers, imaginative baked goodies like their ginger beer scones and an underground cinema, Quilliam’s really is a tea house with an edge.
But it is their tea that keeps the customers coming back for more. From their Pinhead Gunpowder tea to their Banana twist, there are more teas than you thought existed. Being the autumn/winter lover that I am, I have to admit that I have tried almost all of Quilliam’s seasonal teas. I heartily recommend either the Oh Christmas Tea, the Winter Dream or the A Stollen Moment to anyone who wants to know what liquid Christmas tastes like. All are wonderfully warming and get you into the spirit, even in August.
On my latest visit with my fellow cafe-explorer, I added their Snow Drop tea to my list of sampled brews. Snowdrop was surprisingly warming despite having strong fruit tones to it, and tasted slightly like the almond paste in croissants (which in my opinion is a very good thing). We also treated ourselves to a generous slice of their Orange Cake, and their Fruit and Seed Flapjack (both delicious) as snacks for our film viewing.
Every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Quilliam’s put on free film nights in their basement cinema, that fits around 12 people. On my last visit, they were showing Disney Pixar’s Inside Out, a film concerning emotions and psychology that managed to render me into a blubbering mess, sipping my Snow Drop tea through tears. Due to the limited seating and the popularity of these film nights, it’s essential to turn up about an hour early to give yourself enough time to order your tea (and baked snacks) and bagsey seats before it all fills up. It is definitely a good way to spend your Tuesday/Thursday night.
The greatest assets aside from the teas of this brewing establishment is not the charming deco or even the hidden cinema, but the very well clued up team of tea fairies. Every time I have treated myself to a Quilliam’s brew the staff have always served me with a smile, willing to advise me in my indecision between which tea to have. Gretta who has served me the last few times I have popped in was especially helpful and lovely, explaining to the tea novice that I am how the various teas are brewed at different temperatures and for different time lengths. All very technical and eye-opening to the ways of tea-making!
Despite all this praise, Quilliam’s does have one failing. It is a victim of its own success in that it is forever busy with customers, with a 20 minute queue to a table being the norm during term time. This high demand unfortunately takes the relaxed atmosphere away from your tea experience, as the hectic environment and queue of waiting customers can make you feel guilty for taking your time to enjoy your brewed delight. But this is the consequence of such a brilliant tea house, only possibly solved by another Quilliam’s opening up!
Minus the popularity of Quilliam’s, which is both a sin and a blessing, it is the best pace in the Toon to grab a cuppa with a difference.