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Teacup Kitchen

Home > Manchester > Afternoon Tea | Cafes | Lunch | Tea
by Lucy Brown (subscribe)
Freelance writer and journalist based in west London.
Published April 3rd 2014
Have your cake(s) and eat them

'I'm taking you out for cake!' announced my friend and sure enough that afternoon I found myself waiting to be seated at Teacup Kitchen in Manchester's Northern Quarter, having been told in no uncertain terms that the cake there was amazing. Teacup Kitchen is owned by Mr Scruff, who describes himself as a DJ, Producer, Cartoonist and Tea Drinker.

Teacup Kitchen, Northern Quarter, Manchester
Teacup Kitchen


The latter of these passions inspired him to open this establishment, which over the last 10 years has won numerous awards and a feature in the 2014 Food Guide. The outside made me feel like I was walking into a warehouse; that continued inside with the open plan layout, exposed ceiling, low lamps and steel girders. The wooden tables tempered the colour scheme of red, black and silver. It was funky.

Interior, Teacup Kitchen, Manchester
The lower seating area


I'm always impressed when staff make an effort for a customer with a baby. The waitress saw my friend's little girl and said she'd take us upstairs, as there would be more space. She helped carry the buggy, OK, there were only 4 steps but it was considerate and there was indeed much more room for all the paraphernalia that comes with taking a 16 month old anywhere. Highchairs were available too and soon we were down to the serious business of choosing our cake.

Teacup Kitchen, Northern Quarter, Manchester
The upper area is slightly more spacious


All the cakes at Teacup Kitchen are baked in house. The Victoria sponge had sold out on the day we were there but there were many other flavours to choose from; carrot and coconut, white chocolate and poppy seed, red velvet, pistachio, pear drop, rainbow, as well as scones, passion fruit meringue tart, flapjacks and chocolate brownies with different toppings.

Cake counter, Teacup Kitchen, Manchester
A cacophony of cake!


But we settled for flourless chocolate cake, which was gluten free and described as having a dark chocolate truffle texture, and lemon cake consisting of tiers of lemon sponge with lemon curd, citrus icing and white chocolate curls. Those wanting to sample several things can opt for afternoon tea, which is served every day from noon. Expect three tiers of cakes, savouries, scones and tarts with a tea of your choice and bubbles if you see fit. It's described as the opulent indulgence of a British institution without the stuffiness of a traditional tearoom.

Cake counter, Teacup Kitchen, Manchester
More cake?


The range of teas on offer is incredibly extensive. Teacup Kitchen strives to provide the best and broadest selection of loose leaf tea available in the UK. It's displayed in huge jars behind the cakes, which are placed decoratively on a long counter. No customer is left in any doubt as to what the two main players are here. Teas are categorised into premium, popular, rare and beyond rare. Notes by each one describe the flavour, say if it's organic and suggest whether it's best with milk or honey and at what time of day it's best consumed. I don't doubt the menu at all when it says there will be something to suit everyone's tastes. My friend opted for one of Earl Grey varieties.

Bar area, Teacup Kitchen, Manchester
Time for Tea


Not being a tea drinker, it was all a bit lost on me but the juices, milkshakes and smoothies on offer made up for it. Juices and smoothies are fresh and contain at least 3 different fruits or vegetables. The milkshakes are old-school, with real fruit and ice cream. They've all got names; Refresher, Mana Ma Na, Iggy Pop, which give no real clue as to what they are but as expected an explanation follows. I settled for a Chuck Berry smoothie containing red grape juice, blueberries and summer fruits.

Crockery, Teacup Kitchen, Manchester
All you need for your own tea ritual


Drinks, Teacup Kitchen, Manchester
A berry nice Smoothie and a cuppa


A sweet gimmick at Teacup Kitchen is the egg timer. One arrives with each pot of tea served, so the consumer knows when it's been brewing for the optimum time and the flavours will be fully developed. The tea is loose-leafed so sits in a silver holder over the pot opening. A second teapot filled with hot water is used to wake the leaves up. Lots of crockery for a simple cuppa but again it made me smile. The smoothie was delicious. But the cake? Well.

Chocolate cake, Teacup Kitchen, Manchester
A chocolate challenge!


The portions are enormous. The chocolate cake was deliciously rich and creamy. The lemon cake was zingy and light, with generous amounts of icing and curd. Lovely, but neither slice was finished as it was sugar overload. It saddened me as I wondered just how much cake waste Teacup Kitchen generates. It's not necessary. They charge £4 per piece so you'd expect a generous slab, but what if the slices were slightly smaller and cheaper? Or are you supposed to share?!

Lemon cake, Teacup Kitchen, Manchester
The luscious lemon cake


Teacup Kitchen is an eclectic place. Modern in décor yet old fashioned when it comes to the ritual of tea. Centred on tea but there's also a breakfast and lunch menu, which brings in a whole different market and feel. I liked it even though it left me slightly bemused. The staff were the most helpful I've encountered in a long time. Nothing was too much trouble, whether it was bringing more hot water for the tea, replenishing napkins, or heating and then cleaning up my friend's daughters baby food when she threw the entire bowl on the floor. As we left (with the waitress once again carrying the buggy down the stairs) I wondered if I would return. For an indulgent afternoon tea? It's actually not quite the atmosphere I would want. For breakfast or lunch with a piece of cake for pudding? For sure.
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Why? The cake is King
When: Sunday - Wednesday: 10:00 - 18:00, Thursday - Saturday: 10:00 - 20:00
Phone: 0161 832 3233
Where: 55 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1NA
Cost: Most cakes are £4 a slice
Your Comment
Love the idea of the egg timer.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|11465) 1297 days ago
Ohhhh those cakes look divine! Think I'd be cutting the slice in half and smuggling half home for later consumption. As you say, the decor in this cafe is really interesting, quite industrial in appearance. Thanks for an interesting review.
by Fiona Anderson (score: 2|926) 1297 days ago
You can ask for the cake to be boxed up so you can take it home as those portions are HUGE! Went there last Sunday and loved it!
by andre (score: 0|2) 730 days ago
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