How Carli McNaught is pouring the tea into Teesside

TEA lady Carli McNaught has worked tirelessly to turn The Olde Young Tea House into a thriving independent business which has diversified into a phenomenally successful brand.

“When I did my business plan I never anticipated how many men would come in. When men are on their own we feel like we have to pander to them a bit and we make up stories about their lives. We have a lovely fireman who often comes in and sometimes brings us flowers.”

Whether it’s creating a unique tea infused ale with Camerons Brewery, collaborating with local band Cattle & Cane, retailing through an Etsy shop or appearing on tv cookery show, Sunday Brunch, the 28-year-old has embraced exciting opportunities that have come her way in the spirit of a true entrepreneur.

After working as a tailor on Savile Row in London she returned home to Middlesbrough six years ago to recreate a Teesside version of one of her favourite hangouts – the tea house.

After four years in a cosy cafe on Grange Road she was having to turn customers away due to lack of space until she got the keys to the larger property next door where she can now comfortably seat 32.

“Tea is a very social drink but it’s sometimes seen as a sad alternative to coffee which is something you have a fix of on the go. As soon as someone opens the door I can tell whether someone is a tea or a coffee drinker and eight times out of 10 I’m right.”

“Middlesbrough has a really good community spirit. There are lots of creatives here and the blogger scene is quite big. I am so passionate about the town,” she said.

“There’s a possibility that Middlesbrough Football Club is going to get promoted this year which means fans from big cities would be wanting to stay here and bring money to the town.”

Walking into The Olde Young Tea House is like stepping back in time to a world with a slower pace which is put to rights over a soothing brew and a generous piece of delicious homemade cake.

Against the red toile wallpaper are shelves filled with more than 100 teas from across the world and candles flicker on tables while dance hall music plays in the background. Tea pots and crockery – mostly donated by customers – decorate the space reminiscent of an old-fashioned parlour.

When the band Cattle & Cane wanted to bring a bit of Teesside with them on tour, they blended teas with Carli to create their own Coconut and Rum variety which is now sold as merchandise. And after Camerons Brewery (based nearby in Hartlepool) visited for a tea tasting, Carli helped them come up with Sleeping BrewTea, a 4.4 % pale ale described as having a hoppy flavour with hints of raspberry and rose which is infused with Sleeping Beauty Green Tea. The beverage connoisseur has also appeared twice on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch pairing tea with cake and she’s working with several brands from Ringtons to Clarks shoes.

SUP UP: Read more about The Olde Young Tea House’s unique collaboration with Camerons Brewery here... http://expressnorth.co.uk/4713-2the-olde-young-tea-house-launches-sleeping-brewtea-with-camerons-brewery/

She tries her hardest to cater for dietary requirements such as gluten free, lactose free, sugar free, vegetarian and vegan and whether you fancy Green Cherry, Apple and Cinnamon or Spearmint Gunpowder rather than an Assam or Darjeeling, there is a tea to tickle every tastebud.

Carli and her team of nine tea ladies make it their mission to experiment with their tea choice and not opt for Yorkshire Tea – despite it being Carli’s favourite flavour.

Tea break with Carli McNaught…

My favourite places…
To eat in Teesside:
Chilli Cake Deli
Manjaros Deserts
Dosa Houze
Coffee House and Kitchen at Barker and Stonehouse

To shop:
Mod Dolly
Dahlia
Markets for jumpers
Charity shops for knitwear and teapots

To visit:
Saltburn as it’s my home town
Edinburgh
Newcastle
Leeds
Portugal where I’m getting married later this year
Rome which I’m visiting in March
London…now I no longer live there

Favourite tea and cake:
Yorkshire Tea with chocolate and cherry cake

Aims for the future:
I would love to do more work with Channel 4
Develop my Easy shop
Be able to offer breakfasts too…

 

“Tea is a very social drink but it’s sometimes seen as a sad alternative to coffee which is something you have a fix of on the go. As soon as someone opens the door I can tell whether someone is a tea or a coffee drinker and eight times out of 10 I’m right.”

Just as she’s hoped, customers young and old come for a slice of Carli’s hospitality. “We’ve created a community and we build friendships. “We have teenagers and students as well as 90th birthday celebrations.

“When I did my business plan I never anticipated how many men would come in. When men are on their own we feel like we have to pander to them a bit and we make up stories about their lives. We have a lovely fireman who often comes in and sometimes brings us flowers.”

With more than 6,000 Facebook friends and a loyal following, it has been named the UK’s favourite independent. An early adopter of Instagram, social media has played a huge part in promoting the ethos of the business through mouthwatering visuals. And, despite having no business training, she is maximising her brand’s reach through collaborations.

With the tea house open seven days a week, Carli needed a creative outlet for all her other interests so launched a lifestyle blog, The Tea Bee, which has more than 7,000 monthly views. “Initially people asked how I made gluten-free cakes so I started with recipes and went from there, now it has music, fashion, beauty, reviews and other independent businesses she supports.

“The blog is all about my life, a recent one is all about truth, about how people might think I have a glamorous life but, in reality, I’m often taking rubbish to the tip and my house really is a tip. It’s not a negative post but I want people to know the real truth about things.”

Carli knows that her staff are integral to The Olde Young Tea House brand and she knows when she’s identified her next recruit. “I don’t like people to just send in CVs, I need to see them as well as the most important thing is they like working here.

“When I lived in London I I wish I could have been myself but I always felt I had to be someone else. Here I hire for personality because you can teach skill and I really want the girls to be able to bring out the best of themselves.”

CONTACT:

The Olde Young Tea House – 84 Grange Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 2LS

The Tea Bee blog http://www.theteabee.com

Twitter: @TheOldeYoungTHouse

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theoldeyoungteahouse

Instagram: theoldeyoungteahouse

 

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