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The Art of Tea

Vanessa Lees teas up Didsbury

Published on November 1st 2007.

The Art of Tea

Despite the risk of brain tumours and a funnel-shaped extra ear emerging from the side of your head, the mobile phone is a brilliant invention.

It saves lone females from ever having to feel conspicuous in a public place. As long as a phone is attached to your ear, it (a) gives you something to do with your hands, imperative since the smoking ban, (b) makes you look like you have a whole social scene packed into that handset and (c) acts as a chastity belt to unwanted suitors.

This cafe has only been open just over a month and it makes 11am on a Tuesday look like Saturday night at Akbar’s.

The Art of Tea is one of the few public places where you can be ‘comfortably’ on your own minus the handset. In fact so at ease are you in your new found solitude, you’re in danger of saying with a deep Greta Garbo drawl, “I vont to be alone.”

Of course, you’re never completely void of human life at the Art of Tea. No Siree. This cafe has only been open just over a month and it makes 11am on a Tuesday look like Saturday night at Akbar’s.

Its popularity is the product of the relentless Didsbury grapevine, despite being precariously positioned in Didsbury’s Bermuda Triangle (the row of shops at the end of Barlow Moor Road). Perhaps The Art of Tea will make the boarded up shops brew with potential.

It’s a savvy space, like the stage setting to a Harold Pinter play. On upper stage right, there’s Auntie Berol’s 1940s front room with mismatched cups and saucers and melancholy jazz swirling on a gramophone breathing wistfully from antique speakers. On the lower level (let’s call it front stage for continuity’s sake) kitsch morphs into authentic with high beamed ceilings and traditional mahogany wood furniture.

Then there’s the all important back stage, a rabbit warren which features The Village Book Store, Zero Records and picture framing service, all separately owned but together make one lip smacking combo.

The food of course adds to the attraction of this café. I could say that the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon bagel (£3.50) was like a fluffy cloud resting on a button moon but I shan’t because the success of the Art of Tea lies in its simplicity. Honest, good grub, along with a fine Clipper tea selection of Early Grey, Darjeeling, Breakfast tea and Tick Tock Rooibos (naturally caffeine free tea). With a small kitchen, The Art of Tea recognise their own limitations and therefore the speed of service remains snappy and charming as its surroundings.

They also make dreamy home-made cakes. Karen Schofield owner of The Art of Tea told me: “One couple said ‘Your lemon drizzle cake is gorgeous. It’s better then Marks and Spencer. I took that as a real compliment.’”

Karen is selling herself a little short. Personally I think the lemon drizzle cake (£1.25) is better than my late great Aunt Katie’s. Now that’s a bench mark.

With classic literature and timeless LPs to rummage through, you never feel like you’ve outstayed your welcome at The Art of Tea. In fact the only thing that does linger for longer then is socially acceptable is the smell of food on your clothes – the downside to an open plan kitchen.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining restaurants against the best fine dining restaurants, pizzerias against the best pizzerias and so on.

Rating: 15/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
4/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: The Art of Tea
47 Barlow Moor Road
0161 448 9323

Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm

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

Mike GarryNovember 1st 2007.

our fave eaterygreat brewsgreat foodlovely staffproper sofasgreat musicand bookshop - heaven

JonathanNovember 1st 2007.

Chipster..er..very interesting. Care to elaborate?

claire bowmanNovember 1st 2007.

sounds like a lovely place to chill and just have a nice cup of tea and a slice of lemon cake how nice xx

ObserverNovember 1st 2007.

Dear Anonymous, The opening (and closing) times are displayed at the top of the article! Wayne's right.

KarlNovember 1st 2007.

I walk past this place every day as I pretty much live next door to it and yet I have still never been in, maybe I'll go along this week some time and have a slice of cake :P

wayneNovember 1st 2007.

We're way behind because we accurately believe that a night out without a drink is a total amd terrible waste of time.

FoodDeeNovember 1st 2007.

'Karen Schofield - owner'. Any relation?

AnonymousNovember 1st 2007.

Why an earth is the UK behind the rest of the western world in terms of providing venues which are non alcohol related where people can hang out. I certainly hope this place doesn't shut at some ridiculously early time like the rest of the establishments!

chipsterNovember 1st 2007.

didsbury is over

google earthNovember 1st 2007.

I think you'll find "chipster" means ... over by Withington & Northenden

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