IN A sea of coffee shops one hot drink café stands out… because it dedicates passion towards tea.
Confirmed tea enthusiast Rebecca English, 32, pushed back against the coffee culture phenomenon because she’d set her heart on creating an indie teahouse. Rebecca started by creating unique tea blends, incorporating them into bakes and selling them at markets. Then in 2012, Birdhouse Tea Co officially kick started when Rebecca and her mother Julie, joined forces to create a 100% loose leaf tea independent café to spread happiness one sip at a time.
As the tea business began to take off, they moved from the kitchen side into a strikingly beautiful shop and blending studio on Sidney Street which is now home to over 100 creative blends. Garland flowers drape from the ceiling as fairy lights flicker in the distance against exposed brick and wood beams.
But the past year has been a challenging time for all hospitality businesses forcing them to navigate their way through to the other side of lockdown. For Rebecca, she has been baking, creating afternoon teas and crafting custom orders for good measure to connect with her customers during the pandemic. Last month she set up an extremely successful crowd funder with the aim to raise £6,000 to convert old space into her dream bakery.
“We have a whole section of the building just waiting to be transformed into a bakery. You’ll be able to walk into the courtyard and wave at me through the window making fresh treats for the counter, free-from goodies and your celebration cakes.”
Rebecca says now is the perfect time to add this element to the business to put them in good stead for surviving the aftermath of such a challenging year.
She also notes how important it is to cater for everybody’s dietary needs. “I know good free-from treats can be hard to find sometimes but luckily, we’re in
a city full of incredible vegan food. I’m hoping we can be a tasty addition and put our own unique twists on classic bakes with flavours and hybrids. Our sconuts (scone x doughnut) have been so popular this year, and are vegan too.”
Birdhouse Tea Co has almost 13,000 followers on Instagram with fans across the country. The crowd funder was showered in love from locals to help build the next step in the business which almost doubled Rebecca’s goal of £6,000. 310 people jumped at the chance to help the business excel with their generous donations soaring to £11,611.
Rebecca says: “I have been so overwhelmed by the support and kindness, not just over the last month but over the last year. I know this isn’t the start of the calendar year but for me it feels like the first day of the rest of my life. I am ready to make this happen and give back to you all.”
The new bakery will be a hot spot for free-from bakes and celebratory custom orders.
“The most exciting part of opening this side of the business is that we can finally say YES to all of your requests. We receive so many messages for celebration cakes, and just haven’t ha
d the space to be able to take on those requests. We’ll also have an extensive menu for full vegan and gluten-free cakes, with the sky as your limit when it comes to flavour combinations.”
Now that Rebecca’s dream of a new bakery has come to life, she wants to give back to the community that graciously helped her business develop by offering at least one person an apprenticeship in the bakery.
“It’s been an absolute rollercoaster but it feels great to be on the other side of it. I’m a really positive person and enjoy the challenge of overcoming obstacles. I’d say the pandemic is the biggest one I’ve had to overcome, but we’re definitely returning stronger. We’re much closer to our customers, with an amazing menu put together by our head chef.
Birdhouse will open their doors on the 19th May to fulfil our sweet-tooth needs and with tea drinking doubling throughout lockdown, the atmosphere that customers will bring won’t be a disappointment.
“It’s been so great to see how businesses have adapted throughout all of this and I feel very proud of them all. Hopefully we can all move forward and rebuild ourselves for the better. The support from everyone has been very emotional, and I’m eternally grateful.”