Cafe Liverpool Wonderland

Where There’s Tea There’s Hope: Afternoon Tea at Leaf Liverpool

Written by Kirstie Pelling

Leaf Cafe Liverpool Afternoon Tea on Bold Street

‘Where there is tea there is hope’ says the sign in Leaf

There is a delicate smell of flowers wafting from one of five glass teapots in front of me. Whole rose buds bob about in it, their petals grasping a tight pink centre, with the sphere encased by tiny leaves.

“Is it a drink or art?” I ask the kids.

“There’s a slightly woody smell, like Dad’s rose garden,” announces Stuart.

“The minty one reminds me of Polo’s,” says Matthew, helping himself to a pot of the green stuff.

Rose Bud Tea at Leaf Liverpool

Whole rose buds bob about

Eat Me at Leaf cafe Liverpool

The teapots say ‘Drink Me’ but I hesitate. I hate tea. I’ve always hated it. As an industrial coffee drinker, I’m proud to say my latte habit keeps Cumbria out of recession. And if Stuart and I were ever to divorce, I’m sure he’d cite the way I make tea.

But today there are no tea bags and no controversy. And there is no hesitation on any of our parts about consuming the other ingredients of the afternoon tea laid out before us. Everything about it screams ‘Eat Me.’ Awesome home-made carrot cake. Chocolate cake with gold spirals topped with fresh raspberries. Scones with jam and cream. Brownies still warm from the oven and a selection of delicate finger sandwiches. In a glorious hour of Englishness we finish off five plates of food and five pots of tea. I even have a taste of Whole Rose Bud and Morrocan Mint and Lemon Verbana and Blue Sapphire Earl Grey and Assam Breakfast; well it would be rude not to.

Tea at Leaf on Bold Street Liverpool

Leaf’s traditional afternoon tea, cakes and sandwiches

Leaf on Bold Street in Liverpool – an alternative to bars

We aren’t the only ones opting for afternoon tea in this buzzy Liverpool tea house. Tea at Leaf on Bold Street is becoming something of a ritual for those who want an alternative to the coffee shop chains and endless pubs elsewhere in the city. The tearooms are attracting a reputation nationally too, having been listed  in several top UK tearoom lists online and in the UK broadsheets.

Tea at Leaf on Bold Street Liverpool

Where there’s tea there’s hope: Leaf offers tea as a real alternative to coffee or hard drinking

Over a cup of tea (of course) I meet the owner, 30 year old Natalie Haywood. She tells me she was a fellow coffee addict until she gave it up one day and realised there was no real alternative to the likes of Starbucks and Costa. She opened up a small tea house on Parliament Street, eventually relocating to Bold Street when she saw the potential of the new premises as a multi-purpose venue. Natalie also wanted to provide an alternative to the city’s regular hard drinking, “We’re only a stones throw away from the biggest binge drinking strip in the city,” she points out. “I wanted to start something with a more continental feel. I wanted to make tea accessible to people my age and bring it into the 21st century. Tea is often seen as an old person’s drink.”

It’s much more than a tea shop

The plan seems to have worked. On this cold afternoon the place is packed, and we sit upstairs, next to a stage that’s used in the evenings for open-mic nights and gigs. Leaf is a vibrant and creative space that also hosts reading groups, pudding clubs, art auctions and vintage markets. There’s a relaxed, hip feel to the place. Whenever we’ve had plush afternoon tea with kids it has felt more of a chore than a treat. But here there is no sense that they need to be on their best behaviour. They relax and we relax and it’s how it should be.

Afternoon Tea at Leaf Liverpool

Is there something of a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party here?

“We do offer something different,”confirms Natalie, reeling off some of the 40 flavours they offer. “Tourists love our afternoon tea because it’s not too stuffy. But we do it properly; we use only loose leaf.” The art deco building has come full circle; it began as a tea shop in the 1920’s, although it has been everything from clothes boutique to car showroom in between. “This was the old minstrel’s gallery,” Natalie smiles. “We feel like we’ve landed in our spiritual home.”

Tea will always have a place in Liverpool

And in a maritime city that in years gone by has made a living importing tea, smuggling tea, packing tea, shipping tea and sipping tea it is fitting that a century later it should be getting a reputation for taking it in style.

Oh and yes, I did drink the tea, and yes, I liked a couple of them. In the Leaf newspaper I read that ‘Tea to the English is like a picnic indoors’.  But in my opinion, although an indoor picnic is lovely, roses are more suited to the garden than a tea pot. Once a coffee lover, always a coffee lover.

Read more from our  Liverpool Adventures: 

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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