Hig up in the mountains of Northern India, three brothers hatched a plan to bring the perfect cup of tea to Newcastle.
Four years on from their hillside discussion, those dreams have become a reality as the Quilliam siblings open their first specialist tea house.
With more than 100 brews sourced from their travels around the world, brothers Tom, Sam and Patrick are keen to show customers exactly what they’ve learnt on their global tour.
Sam, 24, who grew up in Wylam in Northumberland, said: “All three of us went to India to visit plantations in Darjeeling and Assam. We stayed with the plantation managers who showed us so much and they really liked the idea that three Englishmen were showing so much interest in tea again.
“Tom’s also been to learn about it in China and all of us have been to Germany too, which is a huge producer of herbal and fruit teas. We’ve done a lot of travelling to get our knowledge to this point. We’re not experts but we’re huge enthusiasts.”
Sam and brothers Tom, 28, and Patrick, 26, have opened The Teahouse on Eldon Place after years of searching for the perfect venue.
They heard bosses at Newcastle University’s estate wanted to transform their original Claremont Building at Eldon Place – a one-time book shop which closed its doors 60 years ago.
They have filled the basement with a cinema and art gallery space and upstairs is a cafe which also serves food and in the evenings turns into a small-scale gig venue.
Their own blend of tea, Quilliam Brothers, is also available for sale at cafes across city cafes and delis.
Sam said: “Tom had the idea to do something like a tea house after living in Budapest in Hungary from the age of 19 where he ran a hostel.
“It’s a city where they have a huge cafe culture which goes on late into the night.
“People aren’t drinking alcohol but they’re coming together for conversation and meeting up.
“We liked that idea too so we’re open until 1am and people are still coming through the doors late on.”
The Quilliam brothers are the sons of Jo, a speech and drama teacher at the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle and Steve, a GP based at Castle Surgery in Prudhoe.
They all went to Prudhoe High School before taking quite divergent paths.
Jazz musician Tom moved to Budapest, Sam plays drums with Newcastle-based band Vinyl Jacket and worked for the Theatre Royal while Patrick studied drawing at Camberwell in London. Sam said their parents and older sister Katrina, 30, who lives in Wylam, are pleased they choose to set up a business so close to home.
He said: “They’re really proud and they helped us a lot in terms of getting the place ready. Mum still comes in and does the flowers.
“Mainly, I think, they’re pleased to see that it’s come together and we’re still all based up in the North East.”