Walking along Great Ancoats Street is not pleasant at the best of times, so when I embarked on the journey to Cha-ology in the relentless rain I was less than enthusiastic. From the outside, Cha-ology looked to be on the extreme side of simplistic. However, as soon as I entered and was seated at the tea-bar (due to the cushioned floor seats being full), I knew my first impression had been completely wrong. The hanging Edison lightbulbs gave the room a warm hue and the many, tiny cooking items filled the brewing area showing Cha-ology’s commitment to serving the finest tea.
Freya and I, are unfortunately not Japanese tea experts, so had to shyly ask for some menu advice from owner Mei. She happily chatted us through the different tea options and helped us decide on some Matcha Tea with Soy Milk, some Gyokuro Green Tea, a Matcha Cheesecake and a Green Tea and White Chocolate Tart. We paid, took our shoes (yes shoes) and coats off and eagerly watched as Mei began assembling our Japanese-esque afternoon tea choices.
As soon as we saw our desserts being brought out of the fridge, we knew they were going to be exactly what was needed to brighten up our somewhat gloomy day. The Tart and Cheesecake were both an extravagant green colour, which would have been brave anywhere else but fitted in naturally to our surroundings. We took our first bites, and their exquisiteness was confirmed. The white chocolate ganache that filled the Tart was truly indulgent and the dark chocolate coin delicately placed on top was inscribed with Cha-ology’s name. The consistency of the Cheesecake was clearly perfected and the hint of green tea was subtle yet added to the overall balance of the slice well.
Once the tables prior to us were served, Mei set out to begin the mixology that was necessary for our teas. We sneaked stares at the bright green powder and the roasted tea leaves that we could see being carefully incorporated into our cups. We were then further explained to about the origins, processes and serving of the teas. This added to our authentic experience and definitely increased our somewhat limited knowledge of Japanese tea.
As it steamed in front of us, the first thing we noticed about the Gyokuro Tea was its slightly nutty aroma and light brown transparent colour. We began by cautiously sipping and passing the cup between us, which quickly turned into each of us trying to get more than our fair share. We continued to refill our leaf-filled pot three times. The Matcha Tea, known for its high caffeine content and fresh green colour, was an entirely different experience. It was presented to us in a floral bowl and the creamy texture enticed us straight away. On taste, this tea was thicker and slightly earthy and was a pleasant change to the samey teas available on the high street.
As we sipped and slurped, we admired the unique atmosphere Cha-ology has created and lounged at the tea-bar contently watching the bubbling pans on the visible hob. I was glad we had been sat at the bar, rather than on the cushioned floor, as we saw the intricate processes that went into Cha-ology’s tea and I, personally, loved eyeing up the kitchenware that I now want to add to my Christmas list.