IT’S time for a delicious cuppa in Basingstoke’s Top of The Town as a tea room with a modern twist has opened today. Hayden Gowan is behind the exciting new venture called The Tea Bar, in London Street, where he will be offering more than 30 varieties of tea.

He said: “Over the years, I have seen plenty of coffee shops open up, but I think offering tea will balance things up as I think tea is going to come to the forefront again. And I think our location in a heritage area of town lends itself to a business like this.”

As well as tea, cakes and patisseries, supplied by Bramley Bakery, hot soup and crusty bread are sure to prove a big hit as a winter warmer.

Hayden is offering a warm welcome in the elegant traditional licensed tea rooms with table service after teaming up with Andover-based Twinings to get the business off to a good start.

“I spoke to Twinings as soon as I thought of the idea, and they have been so supportive” said Hayden.

“They’ve offered to come down and provided training and discussed all the speciality teas they offer. They’ve also helped us with the marketing and posters and cards – they’ve been excellent.”

Prior to opening The Tea Bar, Hayden used the premises as a popular bar called Karma, which he ran for three years.

“Karma was a nice venue for the time, but I think I’m getting to the age where I am more interested in tea,” joked the 37-year-old entrepreneur, who with friends has completely gutted the bar to bring about its new transformation, complete with its bird cage motif decoration.

Hayden has a real passion for the area, where as a young lad, he used to work on a sweet stall at Basingstoke market.

“I love this town, I love Basingstoke,” said Hayden. “All my family are from here. If you are going to do something and achieve something, you are going to do it in your home town.”

And Hayden is making use of his late grandfather’s collection of teapots – all 200 of them.

“We will have a big display of them and we’ll use them too,” he said. “We have novelty teapots ranging from a Kensington brick, one which is dolls house and we also have expensive bone china pots and my favourite a toy box.”

He is keen to ensure everybody of all ages will enjoy the experience at The Tea Bar, with its comfy sofas, seating for small and large groups as well as a sharing table to meet new friends.

“We’re offering mums’ baby-changing facilities, high chairs and a pram parking area, and we’ve got Wi-Fi, so if people want to come in and work while enjoying their tea, they are welcome to connect to the internet for free.”

Soft drinks, smoothies, international beers, wines and cocktails will also be available at the new business. Hayden will also be offering Sunday afternoon tea experiences and has plans to hold comedy evenings.