When you think of Up North, one of the many things that (should) come to mind, is that we know how to make a good brew. And by brew, I mean tea. A good cuppa’ tea.
And if you work in an office like mine, then you tend to drink a lot of them. So when I was advised by my nutritionist to give up black tea as part of my new diet program, I was slightly worried. She pointed out that I should experiment and indulge in green or floral teas instead – all of which I either wasn’t that keen on or had never tasted.
I took this as an opportunity to broaden my palate and have some fun so I decided to book an afternoon tea tasting class at a specialist tea house in Stockport. I came across it whilst browsing through what offers I could take advantage of with my Discover Manchester card.
For hundreds of years this elixir has been the answer to all sorts of problems, as well as being the solution to numerous physical and mental health issues.
Himalayas tea is tucked away in Stockport, not far from Manchester city centre, in an old grade two listed cotton mill, dating back to the 1860’s.
First of all – don’t do what we did and drive into the wrong car park entrance. There are two for Houldsworth mill, one side is apartments and offices, the other is for the shops. You need the shops one. The car park is free and you’ll see the lift that takes you to Himalayas as you drive in on the left.
Once you’re at the right side it’s pretty well signposted (just don’t listen to anyone who says its on the third floor – there is no third floor!!).
The building looks as though it hasn’t had any TLC for some time, but Himalayas tea room was a welcoming nook to walk into. Host and tea connoisseur Maryam greeted us at the door, her big personality hits you straight away, as does the aromatic scents of flowers and herbs.
There were 14 of us that afternoon, I believe that’s the maximum, and I can see why, as any more and it would have been quite cramped. But 14 was the right number to create a good atmosphere and there was space for us all to sit comfortably.
The class started at exactly 1pm, armed with our ice cold tea cocktails, Maryam delved into her expansive knowledge on the types of teas and their benefits … always throwing a question out into the crowd to make sure none of us were drifting.
After learning the ins and outs, it was time for some practical work. The tea tasting bench was beautifully set up with small plates of each of the different categories laid out, ready for us all to create our own blend.
After a briefing on the process, and a few quick tips on how to truly ‘taste,’ (slurping is apparently allowed here) we all set out on a mission to create the next best selling brand of tea. Of course, the fact that the winning blend does actually gain a place on the ‘winners shelf’ along with a £50 voucher, meant the concentration levels did knock up a few notches at this point.
Blends created, a lesson on time keeping (the responsibility it holds) and a few short stories later we were ready to taste the 14 concoctions. It brings me great sadness to report I did not manage to win but pleased to say the prize did go to a very deserving contestant (well done John!).
Once the class was over, we were then given the opportunity to relax and enjoy a homemade afternoon tea. Not just any afternoon tea – an afternoon tea where each layer of treats was in fact infused with different teas, from Arabic to Matcha, so creative! Oh and so delicious?!?! The scone infused with Arabic tea and black seed was the highlight (we are definitely emailing Maryam for the recipe).
You can tell Maryam has a great passion for what she does, it shines through from the minute you walk in to the moment you leave. It’s completely infectious. I read a quote from her on a press release “I want everybody that comes here to become part of my family and enjoy teas the way I do” and you know what, with her no-nonsense attitude, that is exactly how she made us feel. Part of the family.
Honestly, the tea tasting wasn’t at all what I expected it to be but I took away everything I needed – I found that I actually enjoy floral teas, I learnt the best way to ‘make a brew’ and I learnt how versatile it is as a product – tea sandwiches; tea cakes; tea candles; teachino… the list goes on!
I went away with everything I needed to spark an interest in the art of tea-making (my strainer is on its way!) and as a group day out, we had an immense amount of fun.
Thanks to Maryam and the ever-so-helpful Mobeen for a wonderful afternoon!
Unit16, First floor, Houldsworth Mill ( Houldsworth Parking), Houldsworth Street, Reddish, SK5 6DS
Are there any other experience days that we should branch out and try? Any other tea houses that are worth visiting for a day of blending?
*T’s & C’s apply