A NEW venture is combining the two passions of one woman; cups of tea and caring for children with special educational needs (SEN).

Tea enthusiast Lucy Richardson-Clarke, a former assistant SEN co-ordinator at Hexham Middle School, has opened the Tea Temple in the former Grant’s Bakery store on Priestpopple, in Hexham.

The business will stock up to 50 weird and wonderful loose tea varieties, offering up everything from the traditional breakfast tea to gin and tonic flavours and the flu warrior drink containing ingredients aimed at tackling the illness.

In addition to selling tea, and cakes provided by Prudhoe-based the Pudding Parlour, a pre-bookable area upstairs has been designed to accommodate families of SEN children, with sensory lights and suitable iPads provided.

Lucy said: “Tea was always the backbone to British society until coffee became more popular, and my main aim is to get the nation back in love with tea.

“When I was a little girl sitting having a cup of tea with my grandad, the dream was always to have a tea shop.

“Because I worked with SEN children, I realised there was quite a gap in the market for where SEN children could be catered for.

“I had this idea of combining the two but people said it was a great idea, and it has all happened so quickly.”

While providing a large variety of tea flavours, a big hit with the younger generation is the shop’s bubble teas, which have flavoured bubbles which pop in the customer’s mouth.

Lucy is asking for the assistance of her customers to decide which teas and cakes it will offer.

Each Friday, people will have the chance to vote for which one of three tea flavours they prefer, and the one with the most votes will be placed on the menu on a permanent basis.

Similarly, three cakes will be up for a public vote each week and the most popular treat will be on sale for the entirety of the following week.