There are loads of great places to get something to eat and drink in Hartlepool. We’re just one of many options offering amazing light meals, a comfortable relaxed atmosphere, and superb value for money.
But there’s a few things that make us different:
- Tea and Infusions. We have over 30 different types, all loose leaf (but still available for takeout, as is iced tea when it gets warmer), and all the very best quality. And at £4 per bag, you can take them to drink at home too 🙂 Ever since opening, teas and infusions have been our passion.
- Freshly Baked Yummies. All our cakes, cookies and scones are baked in our home kitchen or on our premises. All our soups are home made from fine fresh ingredients. We always have gluten free, vegan, and dairy free sweet and savoury options available.
- Games. We have games to play like some places have newspapers to read. You can grab one and give it a go whenever you’re in. More than that though, we offer games nights almost every night of the week where you can come and meet people and play!
- A Safe Social Space. At the moment we’re still a normal business (although we’re slowly converting to a Community Interest Company), but when you choose us for your tea, you’re also supporting our community building enterprises through our games evenings. In a world of decreasing public services we’re proud to offer a safe place for all manner of people to feel at home. In particular we have special evenings for families with autistic members on a Tuesday (and we also work with Catcote school and have students learn games with volunteers every week). Most of our staff have had Autism Spectrum Condition awareness training, so we know whatever the situation to ask if we can help, and not judge. We keep entry fees as low as we can, at £1.25 per evening. If you think you’d enjoy playing games come along, and feel free to send a message first if you want to know someone will be there to welcome you into a game.
But no matter what we have going on, everyone’s always welcome to just pop in for a drink and bite to eat.
Don’t just take our word for it – here’s what some of our reviewers have said:
Everything coming up in January! High Res version here: Events
So here’s the thing.
Films have gone from this….
Video games have gone from this…
Cake has gone from this…
As with every industry, board and card games have progressed too. Although supermarkets everywhere are pushing out the classics again, games have gone from this…
Board games are enjoying their ‘golden age’. Better production value, more time and creativity into the designing process, consumers can cope with a little more complexity than ‘roll a dice and move’, and new ways to play have all added to a plethora of new titles over the last 10 years.
And yet too often we assume that the only decisions to make in a board game is whether to buy a property, and the only interaction is ‘you stole my triple word score!’
At tea@hart we are passionate about the benefits playing games can bring: problem solving, meeting people, relationship building, communication, practicing some basic maths and English skills, strategizing and decision making, improving memory, and most importantly creating endophins!
Many games aren’t just about playing to win, but they have a theme and tell a story – for years you’ll reminisce about how the flu nearly wiped out Europe before you finally found the cure in a research lab in Tokyo (Pandemic), about how you were one turn from winning before the island sank (Forbidden Island), about how Grandma came second without answering a single question because the rest of the family were so bad (Geek Out – true story) and about how you realised Dad was the betrayer and exiled him from the colony to fend for himself (Dead of Winter).
Christmas is one of those times we share with friends and family, looking to meet people, make connections, and make up for 11 months of the hectic work/school/clubs routine. This Christmas when you have friends over or family visiting, when the kids are getting excitable but it’s too early for bed, or when you just fancy popping the screens away for an hour, hear yourself asking: ‘hey, do you fancy playing a game we got from a little tea room in town? It’s dead easy, you just need to guess which card is mine after I give you a clue (Dixit)’
So before you pick up another version of a classic game (and we love those games too!), we want to give you every excuse to give a modern board game a go.
This Sunday (3rd December, 4pm-10pm) we’re offering:
- free entry, a reduced-price menu,
- people on hand to play and demonstrate games with you,
- for everyone who comes to play a game with us we’ll be price matching all games with Amazon.co.uk if you order them on the day!
There is SO much choice for places to go for a drink in Hartlepool we’d like to give you a few reasons to try us:
1) We’re committed to ethical, sustainable business. We buy fairtrade for everything we can (including our coffee, hot chocolate, and baking ingredients). We make subtle changes to our baking that makes no difference to taste but avoids using unnecessary animal products (we aren’t genuine vegans – well, most of us – but we know our farming practices are unsustainable in the long term, so why use an animal product if you don’t have to?)
2) We always have vegan and gluten free choices – often many cafes rely on pre-packaged gluten free alternatives but we make them as fresh as all our other food. We’re also a peanut free environment (though some of our ingredient may contain traces of nuts from their factory, nothing in the tea room includes, or is cooked with, peanut products).
3) By grabbing a tea during the day you’re supporting our community-building games nights! At a time when many community and youth organisations are having to close, you’re drink goes a long way to helping us bring more people together! In fact, very soon we’re converting to a not-for-profit community interest company to show how important this part of the work we do it.
4) We do takeouts 🙂
5) Everything is made freshly to order – that does mean it can take a couple of minutes longer to prepare your food, but if you’re in a rush please let your server know!
6) You might find a Christmas present hiding in our games shelves, or our made-to-order hampers. We also have local ales to take home – and soon we’ll have our very own craft beers!
7) You might find a game to play! We have games for customers to play like some places have papers to read. We have a range of games on the shelf downstairs that we think are pretty easy to learn, or there’s over 200 more upstairs in our library! If this intrigues you, here’s a little more.
8) You want to do some work – during the day we have a quiet space upstairs, free wifi, and lots of sockets for your electricals. Bring a book or laptop, grab a tea, and sit guilt-free for an afternoon getting your course work done!
9) As we get closer to Christmas you might find a bargain 🙂 We have our new Christmas menu coming soon, with special offers!
10) We are (as far as we know) the only place in Hartlepool for tea lovers with a choice of over 30 loose leaf teas and infusions! We only use the best quality premium teas, and you can take them away to have at home too.
Most daytime visitors to tea@Hart just want decent pot of tea, some fairtrade coffee, and a freshly made sandwich, scone, or treat.
But it doesn’t take long before they realise there’s something a little different about us.
The four large shelves full of games, the few small games on the tables, or the large library over over 250 games upstairs, usually give it away.
So what’s this gaming thing about?
Playing board and card games. But not like Monopoly (although we do have Monopoly). We have games that take 5 minutes to learn and 10 minutes to play, through to an hour to read the rules and 8 hours to play (Civilization, we’re looking at you!) – but they’re all even more interesting than rolling dice and moving around a board. They ask you to make decisions, to be strategic, to gather resources or take over cities or defeat zombies. Some ask you to work together to defeat a common enemy, some ask you to compete with each, and some ask you to betray each other.
And some of these games can be a bit expensive, so rather than buy one and put it on the shelf, you can use ours from our library. We can even help you learn how to play – especially on a Saturday evening.
What happens when you come to play games?
During the day you don’t have to do anything special – all customers are able to use our library so, so grab a drink and cake and pick a game. We have a special selection downstairs near the till that we think are relatively easy to learn. Just pick on off the shelf and give it a go – think of it like picking up a complementary newspaper to read.
On an evening the emphasis move towards playing games. There’s a £1 entry fee that we spend on updating our library, but you also get a reduced-price menu.
Not every game’s a winner! If you pick one up and don’t think you’ll enjoy it, swap for another one.
Some evenings we have special events on – these are usually run upstairs, leaving plenty of place downstairs for playing games.
Why does Hartlepool need a place to play games?
There’s been a big reduction in public services we provide a place you can meet people, develop skills, and generally have a good time with others. Most people who come and play just do it as a hobby – as a form of entertainment – but to some it has proven a valuable lifeline, a safe space, and a place to grow.
So important is this we’re going to convert to become a ‘Community Interest Company’ before 2018 and tea@Hart will become not-for-profit.
When we make a surplus what do we do with it? We reinvest it into the community – in particular, we begin running gaming events for the people who benefit most from playing together.
Upstairs we have a library of over 200 games.
If you’re pretty new to playing board games that can be a little intimidating! Where do you begin? Which games are good? Which take 5 hours to play and have a tome for a rule book? Which will keep your family of 4 entertained? Which are good for 2 people?
So often people pick up their old favourites – Monopoly, Scrabble, etc.
And although we’d love to show you some games, we know sometimes, some people would just like to quietly get on with it themselves.
So here’s a few ideas for a pretty easy game to jump in with, that doesn’t take much setting up and a rule book you can read as you play or read in about 5 minutes, from the Hart Family.
Forbidden Island – a cooperative game (which sometimes takes some getting used to – you’re playing together against the game). Try to take four artifacts from a sinking island, doing your best to shore up the worst affected areas before you are either airlifted to safety or left to sink!
You’ll find it on the top shelf, at the far end near the printer.
2-4 players, around 30-45 minutes to play.
Dan’s (aged 9) Choice:
Geek Out – because it’s competitive and fun for the family. Geek Out is like a quiz where you need to provide as many examples of a particular category as you can. You’ll find it upstairs on the yellow row, column 9.
Rebekahs’ (aged 11) Choice
Jungle Speed – like snap, match shapes to give away your cards! You’ll find it in a red bag on top of the shelves upstairs.
Dixit – A kind of short story-telling and guessing game. With a hand of beautifully illustrated cards you place one, providing a clue, before everyone else also places a card. Then everyone tries to guess which card was yours. You’ll find it (and the expansions) upstairs on the red row, column 9.
3 to 12 players (though best with 4 of more), up to an hour to play.
tea@Hart has always been more than just a tea room (though anonymous tea drinkers who just want a quiet place to read the paper, meet a friend, or browse the internet are always very welcome – and the key part of our daytime trade)!
We’re attempting to resource a community of people who enjoy tabletop games. Or sometimes a community of people who enjoy people, and are happy to play games because they get to meet more people. Basically, we like giving people the opportunity to come together – and it’s something we’ve done quite a lot of over the last two-and-a-half years.
In 30 months we’ve gone from opening one evening per week as an extension of a family hobby, to six nights per week! We began with a donation of 12 games from home, to now having over 250 games, expansions and RPG books!!! A key part of our success for our gaming evenings so far are people who give up their time to learn games, get people together, to act as a ‘community builder’ as well as a champion for their preferred games.
But there’s much, much more we can do – and the capacity of the staff and owners to organise and run games are at a limit.
So we’d like to extend an offer to all current and budding Games Masters and Tournament organisers. We want to encourage people who are passionate about the game they love and want other people to love it to! As of September we’d like to offer all GMs:
- A ‘thank you’ in the form of store credit per person who attends your events
- Special rewards for length of service
- Free entry on the evenings you are GMing
- Adding the games, books, maps, or other resources you need to our library.
- We’ll help you advertise your group (if necessary).
- We’ll help you create the atmosphere you want for your game.
- For some games we’ll be able to offer amazing discounts on the games to begin the community.
- Some people might also appreciate the chance to develop their skills and a reference from the owners to show prospective employers your excellent organisational, problem solving, and people skills.
For all Tournament Organisers the rewards are similar, but because you are running a competition on behalf of the tea room, we’ll also get you a snazzy t-shirt if it’s a recurring tournament!
Let’s get to the details:
What’s the differences between a GM and a TO:
- A GM will be running a regular event, usually with the same group of people. As a general rule the participants of your game will pay £1 for their entry fee (unless you come in during the day where there’s no entry fee, but we’d just need to talk about how we can make it work – unfortunately tea rooms and cafes generally need a certain level of turnover in tables to stay afloat).
- A TO will be running a tournament, or a series of tournaments, or a league. Participants will generally pay more to cover prize support. And your snazzy T-Shirt.
Who can be a GM or TO:
- Anyone can be a GM – you just need enthusiasm for the game you want to run!
- Almost anyone can be a TO! You don’t really need to be at a judge level in the rules, though obviously it’s important to know the game. But a TO is representing the tea room, as such we expect a certain level of responsibility, communication, and organisational skills. It looks bad on us, for example, if you’re late to a juniors Pokemon event and have an army of parents and kids twiddling their thumbs. We suggest you talk to us about the tournaments you’d like to run, and if we have several people wanting to run the same event we’ll first encourage you to think of how you could work together, or if that won’t work we have a short application procedure.
- As a general rule you are welcome to still play in events you’re running. Of course, the aim is to grow your favourite game and so you may want to make decisions around playing to prevent an ‘odd number’, and how prize support will work if you do well!
I want the game night to reflect my personality. Can I change the decor/menu/table set up?
Yes. Although there are practical limits, but perhaps your table doesn’t want to have to come to the counter to order food and interrupt the flow of the game – we can provide food at prearranged times or special sharing platters. Perhaps you want to make sure we have a particular drink in to add atmosphere to the game. Maybe you want candles, a particular soundtrack, a favourite table… we want to work with you to create the night you want!
Of course many people want to run their game at tea@Hart because they get to do the opposite – no fuss, no mess to clean up, no worrying about clearing the table before playing or having to provide snacks – just turn up, unroll your map or unfold the board and get going!
GM – whatever game you fancy running. It doesn’t have to be a traditional Role Playing Game. It could running through all the Ticket to Ride expansion, or enjoying playing through a campaign game like Imperial Assault, or a legacy game. It doesn’t even have to be a game (see below). But this is a ‘thank you’ to people who put the time it takes into running a series of games, rather than just a one-off.
TO – whatever game you fancy running. Even those we already run (the one exception is Friday Night Magic and MTG prereleases, which we like to run in-house). Here are some ideas you can take off our hands, where we’re sure you’ll have the ideas to make it even better: YuGiOh; Pokemon (for juniors and more competitive levels); Star Wars: Destiny; Standard Showdown (MTG)… Events we don’t run, but we’ve had interest in: Guildball; Star Trek Attack Wing; Netrunner; Game of Thrones LCG… but send us your ideas! We can also offer some great deals to get new game communities up and running.
We’ve even found customers really appreciate bring introduced to something completely new to them. In the past we have been able to create some great ongoing events from a couple of enthusiastic gamers who began by teaching people completely new to the game how to play. For example: a Dreadball League, Eldritch Horror campaign, Doomtown tournaments, a Netrunner league…
We’re open every evening from Tuesday to Sunday. But it doesn’t have to be an evening. Perhaps you want a daytime D&D group? We can also explore opening Monday too, especially if you think you have enough people to make it worth it (usually 12+ participants).
We swap GM duties in our group – who gets the store credit?
Only one person can benefit from a group at a time. If you rotate GMs there’s no problem – just let us know who’s account to put the credit onto!
Does it have to be a game?
No! We’re using GM as a broad term for anyone who bring a regular group to the tea room. It could be a book club (which would actually be awesome and we’d love someone to run one!), craft group, we think some of our customers would be interested in computer coding (a Raspberry Pi or Microbit club?) or Hearthstone Fireside Gatherings.
What isn’t suitable?
We’re not really spacious enough for very large wargames that need a 6′ by 4′ table with 2 players. Although we’re happy for people to come and try, we couldn’t fit more that 2 games of Star Wars Armada in at once, and we don’t have the space for terrain for war games like Warhammer. Generally any 2 player game that needs more than a meter square are difficult to fit in. However Hartlepool has a well stocked War Games’ Society that would love to hear from you.
I’m in, and I have a great idea!
We have some information on a new type of intro league!
Draft > Play for 3 more weeks > rinse > repeat
With our intro league we’re trying to create a place to play for people who are relatively new, or who prefer to play in a less competitive environment than the usual tournament (which happens at the same time).
This time we’re going to begin with a draft on 5th May, for £10 (you get 3 boosters and, through a process of picking and passing, you build a smaller deck of 40 cards). This forms the basis of your deck for the intro league.
Then every week you can add cards from one more booster that you’re given as part of your entry fee (£3). If you have lost all your matches you can buy another booster to add more cards.
On an evening you play 3 matches, each match is best of 3 with one other player.
This happens for 4 weeks, ending on 26th May
Then – it was so much fun – we do it again from 2nd June (so it’s like 2 intro leagues instead of 1). If you’ve been to all the last 4 Friday Night Magics the next draft will cost £3 (£10 usually).
The winners of both leagues (if they’re different) can then play off, with their respective winning decks, for to be ultimate intro league champion!
You keep the deck in a special deck box at the tea room between weeks, and you can catch up in the tea room at any time with someone else in the league.
We’re also running ‘standard showdown’ every Saturday in May, and a less formal non-competitive ‘league play’ on Sundays 🙂 Lots of chance to MTG!