If you are living in Newcastle the chances are that you have walked straight past Tea Sutra. After moving up here, although I’d heard of it, it took me a few days to find. Located above magic box, on a side street, its questionable location sparked my curiosity, something others may have interpreted as their gut saying “I’m pretty sure we should avoid this place…” – they would be wrong. Inside is a bohemian, Instagram-worthy chill out spot, which will see your IG feed fill up with pictures of elephant shaped teapots (not for sale unfortunately- I asked), faster than you can say “Do you just serve breakfast tea?” (My friend asked). There is an area where you can lounge on rugs, pretending to be in an exotic Bollywood movie, all in the relaxed lighting of bare, quirky-cool red and orange light bulbs suspended from the ceiling. I have taken both friends and my mother here- there aren’t many places that you can genuinely enjoy doing both of those things. Or if you’re anything like me, ignore both forms of company whilst you enjoy taking pictures of teapots.
Tea Sutra offer a limited range of cakes (usually two- it was orange chai or chocolate fudge on my first visit, and then a dubious but intriguing green hued cake the second time- pistachio. I think. Other cakes I’ve seen on offer are lemon and early grey, and carrot cake). They also have a chilled cabinet containing cheesecake, and raw chocolates (try the chilli or the salty butterscotch). The actual food is served from 12pm, with the wraps and vegetable chilli being the hot options. This is vegetarian food done well; the hummus, spinach and roasted butternut squash wrap was my choice, and I was presented with a beautiful handmade offering- complete with extra salad as I asked them to hold the crisps. Immaculate presentation was matched by excellent flavour, with tender, sweet butternut squash being offset with lightly garlicky hummus, all complemented by a crisp, fresh salad. Other appealing options I’ve seen are the roasted red pepper soup and wholemeal bread roll, or the spinach and sweet potato curry with rice. The food is also ideal for anyone health conscious the food is advertised as nutritious and free of artificial flavourings.
But what about the tea?? Well, first things first: don’t be intimidated by names reminiscent of something you may or may not have tried in Amsterdam, or at that slightly blurry house party last year. Read the descriptions and you’ll be fine. If you’re after something to relax with go for the Tibetan Lavender tea, or the Arabian Nights tea. The latter, like all the fruit teas, can be served over ice. I’ve tried the guava green tea, and the rose petal tea also smelt very appealing. If you’re wanting something a bit more unusual why not try the chilli cherry rooibos tea? It’s next on my list. Ordering tea here is great if only for the novelty value; each pot comes with a brewing timer for you to play with.
What we all want to know is: how does it compare with Quilliam’s, king of Newcastle teahouses. Tea Sutra has its own style, and although slightly pricier, makes a great change. The wraps cost £5, and I would say are worth the money- for cakes the range is better at Quilliam’s though. The teas are also slightly more obscure, and so I’d recommend this if you’re looking to try something a little different, avoid the perpetual Quilliam’s rush, or spruce up your Instagram.
1st Floor, 2 Leazes Park Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 4PF