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North Tea Power reviewed

Lynda Moyo is one happy Northerner after discovering this cafe concept. Cappuccino tea anyone?

Written by . Published on August 4th 2010.

North Tea Power reviewed

I love tea as much as the next Northerner, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the city - if not the whole country - lacks love for what is supposed to be a British beverage obsession.

North Tea Power’s take on what I’ve always thought of as America’s unforgiving twist on ‘proper’ tea is very light and refreshing, and will remind you of liquefied summer jelly. Delicious for this time of year - it takes real English tea and adapts it into an ice-cool drink without tampering too much, à la Lipton.

There are a few places that take pride in the pot but on the whole, the most common things you’ll hear in the city’s cafes are: “I’ll have an iced, tall, skinny, double-shot, mocha choca latta matta. To go.”

It’s all very American, but perhaps tea drinkers just prefer their cuppa in the comfort of their homes? North Tea Power begs to differ.

The cafe on Tib Street, in the Northern Quarter, has got sweet tea and sympathy for those of us who want a brew and a slice of cake in peaceful and pleasant surroundings. It’s not anti-coffee, it just doesn’t focus on coffee.

It’s almost unnoticeable when you first walk in, but once seated you can really appreciate the effort to make this place look so...effortless. Clean, spacious and neatly packed with lots of wooden furniture; I’m told that most of it is bespoke, with one of the larger tables being a former piece of scaffold wood. That’s some seriously impressive recycling.

A neat amount of vintage chintz makes for a warm and homely set-up that’s not even slightly cluttered. Neat little touches such as the ex-school chairs and lamp-less bulbs dangling from exposed beams could look cheap and unkempt somewhere else, but here it creates that cool, unpolished look.

It’s a simplistic set up with an approachable atmosphere too. Background music is chilled out and completely non-offensive and the staff float around with permanent smiles on their faces. I can’t even tell you what music was playing on my visit, as I was in the tea-zone from the point of entering, but it made me feel the same way I do when I listen to Air. Easy listening, sip tea to it, audible therapy. They’ve chosen well.

They’ve also picked their tea leaves well. They offer a wide and varied assortment of loose-leaf teas and obscure flavours such as popcorn sit alongside a range of traditional good-for-you herbal teas. The hot chocolate is creamy and rich and coffee drinkers can also come here for the usual espresso, macchiato, Americano, cappuccino, mocha or latte, but if you really want to see the staff’s eyes light up, order one of these in the tea form instead.

Yes, it’s not just the coffee granules that get to go through the fancy machine. You can order a tea cappuccino (£1.80) or any other tea versions of coffee drinks for that matter. North Tea Power boasts Manchester’s first espresso machine tea.

Not quite ready for a foaming cup of tea just yet, I chose a more pleasant sounding Marmalade tea (£2) instead. It’s good strong black tea with a generous dollop of homemade marmalade in the middle and the rind surfacing every so often. Definitely one for the builder’s brew drinker. I was a little overpowered by it and although I could see the marmalade, the taste was lost on my sweet tooth. Pleasingly though, at the other end of the menu and palate range, there are iced teas made to order.

I really enjoyed the Elderflower ice tea. Initially a shock to my mouth - perhaps because of the transition from bitter black tea - it also shocked my brain which has clearly been suffering from ice tea ignorance. North Tea Power’s take on what I’ve always thought of as America’s unforgiving twist on ‘proper’ tea is very light and refreshing, and will remind you of liquefied summer jelly. Delicious for this time of year, it takes real English tea and adapts it into an ice cool drink without tampering too much, à la Lipton.

Food isn’t the focal point at North Tea Power. However, there are still some decent snacks to be had as an accompaniment to a cup of you-know-what, and these are no half-hearted additions.

Sandwiches, made with home-made bread, included fillings such as pastrami and cream cheese, prawn and Marie Rose sauce and green pesto and mozzarella. They’re priced at around £3.70 each. There’s a few breakfast items as well as soup of the day with bread. They also serve a wealth of classic pastries, cakes, florentines and other sugary delights - afternoon tea wouldn’t be the same without them.

And Tib Street wouldn’t be the same with North Tea Power. It’s still early days for the cafe but so far, they’ve got it spot on. The well-developed menu of drinks is a break from the norm yet your old favourites are all still there, so everyone from local trendies to visiting grannies should be satisfied. There’s also free Wi-Fi so you can find a corner and go into your own little world or take advantage of a room big enough to meet up with friends and put the world to right over a pot of tea latte. That scaffold table should be able to hold everyone.

Rating: 17/20
Breakdown: 7/10 food
4/5 serivice
5/5 ambience
Address: North Tea Power
36 Tib Street
M4 1LA
0161 833 3073

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

round the cornerAugust 5th 2010.

NTP's coffees and teas are amazing and now my first choice if I'm in need of a brew. The iced mocha is delicious. Absolutely wonderful interior too, and very soothing.

My only gentle criticism is that they don't consistently offer home baked treats (I can recognise some of them as Costco bakery fare on some days - ok, but not what I'm after.) Once that's addressed then they will achieve coffee bar perfection!

AnonymousAugust 5th 2010.

I went there the other day and they were great! I had an elderflower iced tea, it was delicious! I love the design in there. Its so cosy and relaxing. I haven't tried the food but the snacks look nice.

angriochaddyAugust 5th 2010.

Just when you think the NQ is a bit over- endowed with smart/ quirky places in which to enjoy a cuppa with your mate (s)along comes another, but this time, it's the genuine article - friendly staff, an exquisite choice of infusions and an interior classy enough to take your snobby Cheshire pals, cool enough for your uber- trendy London types. i'm hooked and visit at least once a week

owlgirlAugust 6th 2010.

My first trip here I wasn't impressed to be honest - the iced elderflower tea was slightly bitter and the sandwich was made from such a doorstop wedge of bread I got jaw ache. Having been back twice however I'm pleased to say I've changed my mind - the iced green tea mocha is a delight and the sandwiches have become softer and lighter. As someone else pointed out, a wider range of home baked treats would be nice but the staff and atmosphere are outstanding and make up for this.

northernmonkeyAugust 6th 2010.

I visited this establishment a couple of weeks ago and found the service, the 'vintage chintz' decor and the tea far Too Cool For School for my liking. The iced-tea was warm, the fruit cake stale, and the 'approachable atmosphere' elusive, as was any table service (a rather surly member of staff called me back from my seat to the counter to collect my cup of tea). Oh and the 'non offensive' background music was deafening, even to me with a bum-ear.

arewestillfriendsAugust 7th 2010.

NTP is seriously my favourite place to go mellow out! Wayne and Jane are super lovely and always have time for a chat and explain a specialty tea (or two)
The chorizo and emmental sandwich is delicious and there's always and intriguing soup of the day.
great decor, free wifi... why wouldn't you pop by?

gmsAugust 9th 2010.

Good to hear following the demise of Grindsmiths just around the corner. R.I.P.

round the cornerAugust 9th 2010.

Northernmonkey, I've been here 6-7 times now and it's never been as you've described it so I am a little surprised. The music has always been quiet, and my iced drinks were always served with plenty of ice.

Fruit cake stale - well, as I've said before I think the baked goods need a little work, so that's fair enough.

It's my impression they call everyone back for their drinks once ready, which is fine with me. I wouldn't have ever described them as surly! If anything they've come up several times asking how I liked my drink and looking for feedback. They've also always greeted me on the way in and out, nice as pie.

NORTHERNMONKEYAugust 9th 2010.

Roundthecorner, Fair enough, I suppose (and statistically speaking, since I've only been the once - perhaps my visit just coincided with a Bad Day for the particular member of staff who served me?).

I do get confused, though, when the system just isn't clear, and is half one thing and half another (my cake was brought out to me).

Would agree with GMS on the sad demise of the lovely Grindsmiths with its bunsen burner brewing paraphernalia...

Katie AmosAugust 10th 2010.

Cappuccino tea - I have to go here asap. They do cappuccino tean in Japan and I loved it and am so pleased to hear it has made it over here. I hate coffee.

KittyBooNovember 30th 2010.

I love NTP it is a great place to chat with friends and get a decent cuppa.
Reading peoples comments I see I am not the only one.
As to the cakes not all being made 'homemade' you should have a chat to the 'staff' (aka the 2 owners Jane and Wayne) who work 7 days a week and try hard to ensure everything is homemade but sometimes things run out. This is also the reason it is not table service, but maybe you lazy people should get off your bums and walk the 1 metre to the counter!!!
Love you NTP

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