Cup Tea Garden based in Virginia Court, Merchant City West, is a true hidden gem, channeling the enterprising legacy left by Glasgow tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton, rejuvenating the boutique tea industry in Glasgow. Cup’s owner Paul Reynolds has plenty of experience revitalising a dormant industry. Paul, of course responsible for opening Glasgow’s first dedicated gin bar, Gin71.

A roaring success, Gin71 has built success without resorting to eye-catching gimmicks, effectively refusing to cheapen the brand. Reynolds allowed the quality of Gin71 to speak for itself, and was duly rewarded. Sensing the rise in popularity of the boutique tea industry in Glasgow, the owner of Gin71 is determined to reinvigorate Virginia Court, which was once the thriving heart of the Merchant City.

Whereas many other teas are blended without a level of care, not so in Cup, Paul explains “Alex Probyn our tea blender is unbelievable, his level of expertise is second to none. Other teas are created using rough, bruising techniques, in a sort of huge cement mixer, but not ours, we mix and bag our tea by hand.”

Cup have the firm belief that taste and experience is paramount, “without customers, there can be no business”, said Paul, “we always aim for the customer to have left feeling like they’ve been treated like an individual, very much quality over quantity.”

Similar to Cup evolving into the beautiful Gin71 butterfly after 6pm, Cup Tea Garden in Virginia Court, morphs into Virginia Bar & Rotisserie after 5pm, still serving all your favourite boutique teas but also specialising in high quality food made to order from locally sourced ingredients.

“Our food is only of the highest quality, said Paul, “our chickens are free range, our chips made completely in house, our macaroni cheese is superb, sauces, and our coleslaw is also prepared fresh everyday.”

“I personally picked the farm in Alloa where the chicken are reared free range.” Paul continued, “taste and experience means everything to us.”

Although the same owners as Gin71, Virginia Bar and Rotisserie, is bringing a new experience to the city centre, while specialising in tea, they offer far more to customers with downstairs serving craft draught beer on tap, as well as cocktails, breakfasts, cakes, brunch, dinner and coffee, but no afternoon tea option at the minute.

We don’t want to simply use the Renfield Street premises, and start replicating the same thing for each venue.” Said Paul, “we want each of our venues to have its own personality, its own unique identity.”

One of the unique additions to the new venue is ensuring a fully seated premises, so there’ll be no drinking and hovering at the bar. “That’s not what we’re aiming to create”, said the relaxed entrepreneur. “we’re pushing for a more continental vibe, the decor is inspired with an earthly feel, plants, flowers etc, it’s also hopefully reflected in our huge collection of teas.”

Speaking of tea, the Cup crew had mixed fortunes after spending a year trying to find the perfect menu “Well there’s 50 teas on our menu, three of which won awards (Afternoon Blend, Gorgeous Grey, Summer Fields Rosy Calm), Gorgeous Grey was so popular we turned it into a jam, and that also won awards.”

It appears however, that every flavour the team created wasn’t quite as satisfactory “well we tried everything” laughed Paul, “Irn Bru tea, haggis tea, everything. Haggis flavoured was, as you can imagine, absolutely disgusting, however Irn Bru had potential, it was just a little too synthetic tasting, and was kind of moving us away from what we are trying to achieve.”

Spending time in the Virginia Court premises, you feel a real sense of togetherness, first name terms, no overtly authoritative atmosphere “yeah that’s kind of the vibe we’re hoping to give off, said Paul, “our staff turnover stats are brilliant, nobody wants to leave, we’ve an apprenticeship programme, and a graduate manager programme, we offer real world qualifications.”

He continued. “The first person in our apprenticeship programme five years ago, is now our Deputy General Manager, we believe loyalty breeds loyalty.”

Serving only the best tea, the freshest gin and the highest quality food, has seen the Cup owners set a new benchmark for Glasgow food and drink industry, but customer satisfaction it appears is just as important, Paul Reynolds explained. “During the renovation, one of our regulars came in needing to do a bit of work on his laptop, the area he usually sits at, doesn’t have any plugs, within the week, there was a row of built in plug sockets.”

Don’t worry Gin fans, Cup owners haven’t abandoned you, providing high quality gin based cocktails, homemade syrups for the cocktails, and only the greatest quality of gin served at the bar. There’s also the Gin71 promise of constantly sourcing the newest and tastiest gins on the market.

With a modern student population living nearby, and young trendy professional clientele who work and socialise in and around the city, Cup Tea Garden/Virginia Bar Rotisserie seems like a perfect addition to Glasgow’s bustling and ebullient, food and drink industry.

“If you can imagine the atmosphere of a Mediterranean bar, infused with the passion and heart of Glasgow, you’re definitely along the lines to imagining what we’re aiming to bring to the city.” said the Cup Tea Garden owner.