I don't really know why, but every time I think about Afternoon Tea, I think about my mum, her mum, and all the other mothers out there- and I bet I'm not alone.
Maybe it has something to do with the bite-size portions (everyone knows that mothers don’t have the stomach capacity to eat full-sized anything) or maybe it’s because drinking openly on an afternoon makes me think of my mum. Lord knows she deserves to after looking after me for the past twenty-something years.
Below is a list of some of Manchester’s best afternoon teas and what kind of mother would love them- can you pick out yours?
Mum who would love this: Diane, 51 but looks 45, PR Guru with expensive tastes. Definitely has more sex than you.
The cool-kid on the block would be the revamped afternoon tea at Manchester House by new head chef Nathaniel Tofan. Expect all the classics but with a swanky modern twist with fun additions such as boozy tomato soup and brioche sandwiches. Tofan stays true to Mancunian heritage with the inclusion of such delights as the Manchester Tart- a crown of crisp feather-light raspberry meringue and fresh fruit sat aloft a buttery soft little custard tart- as well as a plethora of other calorific delights. Honestly, it is such a treat and sipping a glass or two while you enjoy the stunning view is a gift in itself.
Mum who would love this: Annette, 50, loves dogs and Jilly Cooper novels- but don’t tell her husband.
There are two options when it comes to Afternoon Tea at Brassiere Abode. For £18, you get a fantastic tower of treats and nibbles including scones, pistachio macaroons, smoked salmon sandwiches & mini quail scotch eggs amongst other treats plus your choice of teas or coffees. Additionally, for £25 you can improve this lot with some Champagne- because why the hell not?! This is one of the more budget-friendly choices, which leave space for perhaps a spot of shopping afterwards, but I assure you, Abode does not scrimp on quality.
The Lowry Hotel
Mum who would love this: Trish, 47, always wearing jodhpurs and very difficult to get away from Cheshire.
Highly commended by The British Tea Council (which is a thing apparently) the afternoon tea at The Lowry Hotel is perfect for any occasion. They have recently ditched lunch in favour of putting their heart and soul into tea- and we love it. They have a traditional tea which includes finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, pastries and dainty fancies washed down with an extensive menu of teas and infusions. They also boast a monthly changing themed tea which takes inspiration from holidays and events in the calendar. Right now, you can enjoy the ‘Back to School’ tea- which is full of all your nostalgic childhood favourites with a little added Lowry finesse.
The Richmond Tea Rooms
Mum who would love this: Caroline, 63, ex-English literature teacher, and collector of ornamental forest critters.
This beautifully kitsch, purpose-built tea house is Alice in Wonderland themed, and before you run away in horror, let me tell you it is fabulous. And I mean it. They combine a weird and wonderful array of exotic and rare teas from around the world with traditional favourites ensuring that every taste is catered for. Richmond tea rooms is a hot-spot for special occasions from hen-dos to birthdays so it will make an excellent place to take your mum. Choose from Alice’s Tea to the Hatter’s Tea, to the Queen’s Tea (which all vary in size) or go all out with the wonderfully indulgent Richmond Tea with a glass of fizz.
Just so you get a vibe for this place, you should note that they have a quote from Henry James’ ‘Portrait of a Lady’ and a brief history of afternoon tea on their website. It is that kind of place. With that in mind, I think the best word to describe this afternoon tea would be distinguished, or perhaps elegant. It begins with delicate finger sandwiches served with the pièce de resistance three tier stand with light, crusty scones and rich clotted cream accompanied by a variety of homemade cakes and pastries and served with as much tea and coffee as you need to fuel the gossip.
Mum who would love this: Jenny, 49. Lives in the country but loves coming to the city to find a hidden gem and a bargain in TK MAXX.
Tucked away in a little corner of The Princess Street Hotel, is a coffee shop which can be considered a serious contender in the Manchester coffee scene. Pour-overs, artisanal hot chocolate and loose leaf teas are the kind of beverages you will find at Lawn Coffee as well as a budget-friendly afternoon tea which everyone is talking about. For just £24 you can enjoy a selection of sandwiches, scones, freshly baked cakes (which include a Manchester Tart, lemon drizzel cake and a mini pavolva) and a glass of Prosecco. Bargain! What’s more is they have a Toddlers Tea for little ones so you can enjoy one for yourself without having to share with some sticky fingers. No need to book- just drop in whenever you fancy.
Mum who would love this: Florence (Flo for short), 50, conceptual artist, owns eight pairs of Doc Martens
This one is indeed one for those of us that are so over jam and cream and want to pursue the more experimental things in life. This boutique chocolaterie based in West Didsbury has an afternoon tea menu which is full of twists and surprises such as scones with cream and salted caramel, chocolate tart, brownies, mini chocolate ganache pots and choux pastries. This is what heaven looks, smells and tastes like for any chocoholic, and if your mum is anything like mine, you will be dragging her out of there before she buys the entire shop up.
Mum who would love this: Barbara, 62, domestic goddess with a penchant for Prosecco and Pandora charms.
My mum took me for a Harvey Nichols afternoon tea a few years back when I graduated, and it was a proper treat. Granted, it is one of the more luxury ones out there, but I cannot stress how good it is. Just as a nice little change, it doesn’t come served on twee china or brass layered stand, but instead on this, purpose built block thing. I guess it is a bit like those things for Ikea that everyone in the world has at least one of in their home, but instead of hosting books you’ve never read and general knick-knacks, it is full of delicious treats. We’re talking sandwiches, pâté on toast, goat’s cheese and onion wraps, miniature cakes, pastries and patisserie- including some of the best macarons I have ever tried. Head on over on a sunny day and enjoy the gorgeous view.
Mum who would love this: Stevie, 59, big into caravanning holidays, vintage dresses and LindyHop when her knee isn’t giving her jip.
Vintage inspired and just utterly adorable with mismatched crockery in various floral designs, The Sugar Junction on Tib Street in the Northern Quarter is what all your traditional tea-dreams are made of. Their tea comes with a range of delicious butties, a tangy lemon posset, warm scones with clotted cream and jam, and a variety of freshly baked cakes. I had this tea a few years back, and it is safe to say that I think of the chocolate Guinness cake to this day. I didn’t know this, but there is a Sugar Junction in Altringham too, so if you are out in the burbs you can hit that one up also. Ive just heard you can get their tea with bottomless Prosecco on Sunday’s- so chin chin to that!
The Midland Tea Room
Mum who would love this: Juliet, 67, divorced twice with no regrets and dripping in diamonds.
The Midland Hotel is one of Manchester’s oldest intuitions and has been serving a silver service tea since 1903. This afternoon is utterly opulent, and the guys at the Tea Room are masters in their craft, from the stunning food to the fantastic service which will make you feel like royalty. Standard tea will set you back £25 quid, and with a glass of Montaudon Cuvee Brut for £32. It’s the kind of place that you feel like you should be wearing long white gloves and tiara, which I’m sure they would let you do-just no trainers you barbarian.