4th best place for brunch in Britain by The Times
We're delighted to be named the 4th best place for brunch in Britain by The Times newspaper.
The nice folks at The Times said 'Oh to have one of these near by. A modern space with a good vibe that morphs from cafe to music venue to Scrabble club to pudding club to vintage fairs. And the bar prides itself on its range of loose-leaf teas and delicious home-made cakes. Envy.'
Thank you to The Times, all our lovely regulars and visitors alike for your support!
Top 10 British Tearooms
The lovely people at Yahoo together with Visit Britain have ranked us in their "Top 10 British Tearooms".
This is what they had to say about us...
"This ‘punk’ tea bar pairs tea with late-night DJ sets, Wi-Fi and wine in a cool, modern space in Liverpool’s arty Elevator Building. It sells 24 loose-leaf teas and there are also tea tastings, live music and exhibitions. Head to the Leaf Tea Bar, stay all day and see it morph from relaxed daytime tea house to cool late-night club."
This month we’re chuffed to be featured in Olive Magazine. Here’s what they had to say:
“Leaf may bake superlative cake and carry 24 exotic loose-leaf teas, but this is unquestionably a 21st century tea shop. The post-industrial space regularly morphs from a trendy cafe popular with musicians and creatives, into a gig, club and cinema. Arrive early for the daily menu that can include creamy celeriac and almond soup or lamb scouse with pickled cabbage”.
Where are all the tea bars?
Some pioneers have attempted to bring our collective panacea into a modern social setting. Manchester's Mumbo, with it's fabled wheel of tea and balmy roof garden lasted roughly one year, and Glasgow's Tchai Ovna is currently fighting the threatened redevelopment which would concrete over its beloved restorative garden. This famed haven in the west end of Glasgow is a serene contemplation zone with space set aside for an authentic Japanese tea ceremony, offering 80 varieties including the (nicer than it sounds) Tibetan spittan - a twiggy blend traditionally drunk in monasteries.
Despite the recession, we can't move for branches of Costa and Cafe Nero, where chic barristas serve a bewildering number of variations on the theme of java. Coffee began to take itself seriously in the 80s, whereas tea is perpetually burdened with the image of those poor gurning chimps and their removal service.
Perhaps it's because coffee culture seems so 'now', despite the pressure to order accurately at speed from a complex menu offered by a hazy but hip trainee barrista, whereas the phrase 'tea bar' might smack erroneously of nostalgia, of stewed institutional brews and leaden fruit cake. Can you imagine a long-running US sitcom about wisecracking adolescents featuring a tea room?
Perhaps we should simply be thankful that existing tea bars are small, busy and independent, like Leaf in Liverpool, and Teacup in Manchester, the latter owned by tea loving DJ Mr Scruff (who enjoys a cuppa while working, and even markets his own blends, including mint and chilli.) Furthering the cause, there's Brew, again in Liverpool, where patrons stand hypnotised by the selection, and T Smith in London, where the tasting counter features a house speciality - pu-erh tea, which improves with age like wine (T Smith offer a 50 year old variety).
Interestingly, each British region seems to prefer a different flavour or variety of tisane: in Glasgow, it's tchai: authentically flavoured (and spelled) whereas in London's Boutea rose and jasmine scented infusions keep customers coming back (they also have pu-erh tea parties - my but they have fun with their puns.) And despite a bountiful list of options (including matcha latte) patrons of the capital's Teapod still adore English Breakfast.
Where they exist, tea bars are stylish, independent and popular. So why are there not more of them, and how come there's no national chain? Which have we missed from our list?
The UK's Top 50
“Tea and scones may go together like grannies and girdles but that hasn't stopped this 'punk' Liverpool tea room from forging a rather more modern medley for its clientele. It offers 24 loose-leaf teas alongside late-night DJ sets, Wi-Fi and wine. Popular with a pre and post-gig crowd and visitors to local art shows, Leaf also runs regular tea tastings.”
“On the Last Sunday of every Month Leaf Tea Shop and Bar hosts - Retro Sundays, A fabulous opportunity to leave the mundane high street behind and step into the world of retro threads. A mini vintage fair offering men’s, women’s clothes and accessories and designer re-customised vintage and retro clothing.”
Jade Wright pops into Leaf Tea Shop and Bar
“Times are tough for bars right now. The weather is dismal and we’re all either penniless and saving for a holiday or just plain penniless.
In short, any new bar that’s going to get people through the door for the next few months has to be something really special.
And I’ve found just the place.
With Nick Peet out of town this week, I've donned his bar reviewing mantle, and my first stop was a bar and tea shop in the shadow of the Cains brewery.
Leaf is a hidden gem, right on the edge of town. With good service, a superb wine list, and delicious food, it’s one of a growing breed of places happy to serve you just drinks or drinks and food, calling itself a tea shop and wine bar.
Inside, the decor is chic and welcoming, with stripped wooden floors and lovely big comfy sofas.
It’s the kind of place you could happily laze away an afternoon browsing the papers and people-watching with a glass (actually, make that a bottle) of wine.
Or, if you’re feeling so inclined, one of a huge array of teas just begging you to sample them.
If it was a few hundred yards north you wouldn't be able to move. But tucked away on the other side of Jamaica Street, you have to be looking for it to find it.
It’s the kind of place the Scouserati, footballers and the usual sort of people you’re craning your neck to spot would love, but thankfully they haven’t found it yet. For now it’s all ours, and I’ve been making the most of it.
It seems that for bars, like househunters, location is everything.
On the first evening we went, before a gig at the Picket, we were the only customers in the place.
The service is quick and friendly - they were happy to talk us through the menu, which is a good thing as it’s fairly extensive, with lots of drinks to choose from and an impressive list of snacks.
If you're feeling peckish, the butterbean soup (£3.25) is suitably hearty, and there’s a lovely black olive & parmesan salad (£3.25).
My friend loved the hearty full breakfast (£5.95), while I tucked into the vegetarian version at £4.25 with halloumi. It’s served until 12 during the week and all day at weekends.
There's Carling on draught and bottles aplenty, including Corona and Mexican lager Modelo. But, my advice is to forget the beer, and browse the wine list instead.
They do a great, fruity fairtrade red, the Chilean Equality Casa Del Vino - Mission (£12).
If you just fancy a glass, their house white is a good bet. A French Baron d’ Arignac, it's a crisp, dry, blend of Colombard,
Ugni Blanc and Folle Blanche (£9.99 a bottle of £2.75 for a 175ml glass).
And if you're feeling really flash they do a Dom Perignon Brut Vintage for £100. Cristal is available on request. There's no price on the menu - I suspect it's one of those where if you have to ask you can't afford it. I can't, so I didn't.
As you might expect from a place called Leaf, their tea menu is superb, with 22 infusions from all over the world.
My favourite is the Jasmine pearls (£1.75), although the cappuccino (£1.79) and Green and Blacks hot chocolate (£1.79) are great for those less enamoured by tea.
Owner Natalie Haywood from Aigburth set up the first incarnation of Leaf at the Roscoe gallery two years ago at the tender age of 24. She cut her teeth with Korova Corporation, promoting venues such as Alma de Cuba and Baby Cream.
Last year Leaf moved to its new Parliament Street home with little fuss or fanfare.
But that’s its charm. It’s a friendly, relaxed bar, without a whiff of a VIP section.
They share the venue with Elevator Studios, home to The Zutons, The Wombats and Hot Club de Paris.
With music all around and its reputation steadily growing, I have a feeling Leaf won’t stay this quiet for long.
Where am I: Leaf, 27 Parliament Street, Liverpool, L8 5RN. Tel 707 7747, www.thisisleaf.co.uk
Pint Pullers: Well-trained and friendly
Powder room: Smart and sassy
Long drinks: They do a great Tanqueray and tonic
Heroic hops: Carling on draught, plus guest beers, bottles include Corona, Peroni, Red Stripe and Modelo Especial
Entertainment: Full programme of events see website for details”
Teas with a Twist
“Enjoy a tea-tasting masterclass in this self-styled 'punk' tea room, which serves 24 loose leaf teas. At night live music, DJ sets and films take over the warehouse space.”
“Could your wardrobe do with a boost in these tough economic times?
Leaf Tea Shop & Bar is hosting Retro Sundays, a vintage fashion fair on Sunday selling off unwanted clothes at a fraction of their price. Its a great way to get a bargain while making sure that usable clothes don't go into landfill.
Owner Natalie Haywood explains: "Retro Sundays gives you the opportunity to leave the mundane high street behind and step into the world of retro threads. If you've never bought vintage before, now is the time to discover some unique pieces. This mini-vintage fair is the perfect chance to bag yourself something stylish, recycled and sustainable".
The fair runs from 11am-5pm and they'll have home made scones, cakes and snacks along with more than 22 different tea infusions from all over the world. There's never been a better excuse for a nice cup of tea and a sit down.”
“Although normally a cafe, bar and club venue, Leaf on Parliament Street is launching a chill-out retro shopping event' this weekend.
Taking the idea of retail therapy as the remedy for a hangover, stalls will sell men and women’s clothes, jewellery and accessories. Titled Retro Sundays, you can expect a fairly vintage feel to what’s on offer.
You'll also be able to relax with some tea, breakfast and the newspapers while mulling over your purchases.”
“Forget lace doilies and chintzy wallpaper, this hip tea shop and cafe doubles as a club, cinema, art gallery and live music venue. Owned by 26 year-old local entrepreneur Natalie Haywood, it's located inside a refurbished warehouse and looks like a cross between a New York-style loft and a smart furniture store. About 25 speciality teas are on offer, including Yellow Gold Oolong, Organic Silver Needle, and Flowering Red Amaranth, and you can also take part in tea-tasting masterclasses. The daily-changing food menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches an hot savouries like lamb scouse with pickled cabbage. And as you might expect you can also stop by for breakfast of afternoon tea.”