On an uneventful, rainy Tuesday afternoon I went to visit Teacup on Thomas Street, waylaid slightly by the enticing shop windows along the way. The scent of fresh tea filled my nostrils, the sight of the rainbow cake lit up my eyes, the sound of the friendly and enthusiastic waitress put me at ease – and the fact that it was warm and dry was enough to recommend it after the downpour I had just fled from. So far, it had ticked the box for every sense apart from one: taste.
As I waited for the £4 slice of carrot and coconut cake to arrive, my inner grumpy cat calculating that £4 would cover the cost of the entire cake, I took in my surroundings. There were scrubbed wooden tables, a commendable lack of standard teashop frippery, David Shrigley anti-psychotic tea blend and Mr Scruff memorabilia. Despite the pleasing aesthetics of the place I was still attempting to work out just how good this tea and cake would have to be to merit costing the best part of a tenner. I realised that if I were a physicist I might genuinely be able to work out an equation, which I could then proudly and conceitedly write on the bottom of the bill. Unfortunately, being a philosopher, I just carried on thinking about it without coming to a conclusion. The cake was good, but what combination of eggs, butter, flour and sugar wouldn’t be? At £4, it was going to have to be better than good.
My tea had arrived along with a cup and saucer, a strainer, a sand timer, a jug of milk and another empty teapot. If these theatrics were supposed to beguile me, they failed. Tea is tea; it is not a circus act. Once again my mathematically-impaired mind sought and failed to calculate the potential savings they could make if they forwent unnecessary empty teapots and pretentious timers.
So, my trip to Teacup left a lot to be desired. However, as I ambled back to Piccadilly, taking the long way round the Northern Quarter, I noticed a huge array of other shops, cafes and restaurants which may well fill the taste void left by Teacup. Takk, a new Icelandic coffee house has recently opened on Tariff Street and the bread and wine bar Bakerie on Lever Street looks like a great evening option. Like an old Fagin, Manchester’s Northern Quarter has, underneath its run down, disheveled outer layer, an assortment of glittering jewels: tea shops, wine bars, record stores, vintage clothing, tiny galleries and music venues. Teacup is certainly not the jewel in the crown but perhaps soon I will come across something that is.