If there is something I enjoy more than cakes, it is cakes with tea. Tea was pivotal when I was growing up with tea being served with every Chinese meal. There were many types of teas and my curiosity for tea widened when I grew up and was able to try different varieties of tea from specialist tea shops and abroad.
When I found out Leaf had a pudding club which pairs pudding with tea, this massively peaked my interest. Here I will review the evening. *
I really like the interior in Leaf as it combines cosiness with an urban aesthetic. The chairs are wooden with some upholstered benches and a combination of wood and marble tables. The lighting is bright during the day as the windows are large and in the evenings, they have dimmable lights which they set to a comfortable level.
Emma, the manager and Julija, the assistant manager guided us through the evening, discussing the teas in detail as we ate each course.
Leaf pudding club courses
This tart had a very hard base which I struggled to get my fork into, making this less than ideal. However, after resorting to using my hand, the base had a nice bite to it which complimented the sweetness of the white chocolate and banana filling. I could taste the white chocolate although it was perhaps overpowered by the sweetness of the bananas. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this and it was paired perfectly with the pure life wellness tea.
What’s in the pure life wellness? Well, the tea has a mixture of lemongrass, bamboo, orange slices, lotus blossom, ginkgo and jiogulan; many of these have supposed health properties. The flavours are very subtle and they compliment the tart well as it doesn’t overpower the taste buds. In many ways, it is better than drinking water as the palate is gently cleansed rather than abruptly. Additionally, this tea is caffeine free.
Really loved the fruit curd here, and the grilled pineapple on top of the brioche. The brioche itself was slightly let down by not being as soft as I would have liked. I suspect this is due to the small size of the brioche and the result of grilling it. This was paired with the exotic garden tea, a Sencha green tea with papaya, mango, carrot and sunflower petals. The tropical flavours paired well together and as with the first course, the tea gently cleans the palate allowing you to fully appreciate the next mouthful.
Cherry bakewell is one of my favourite British classics so I was very much looking forward to this course. I was surprised at how large a slice they gave us for this course! This was served with a crème anglaise, 5 dots of chocolate and a fruit coulis. My only critique is that I wish there was more coulis to go with this large slice. The chocolate was, I thought, I strange addition initially but I really liked how it complemented the cherry flavours.
The wild cherry tea was our first black tea of the evening and had a subtle flavour of cherry which obviously paired well with the bakewell. We were informed that adding milk actually affects how the antioxidants in tea work, so we were urged to drink this black. (I already drink most of my teas without milk, partially because I’m used to it and partially due to laziness at buying milk).
My friend doesn’t like eating nuts, so she was given this to eat instead. I really like how the staff at Leaf did this, as they were only notified last minute and needn’t have supplied an alternative. The courgette cake was quite moist and the lime frosting was zesty. I really liked this cake.
The chocolate soufflé was perfectly cooked with a soft centre. As a chocolate soufflé, it was faultless. However, as a mint chocolate soufflé, it was somewhat let down as I struggled to find the mint flavours. This was paired with the African mint tea, a rooibos, also known as a red bush tea. This tea is caffeine-free and high in antioxidants. Mint teas are my least favourite tea as I tend to drink tea without food and find the mint to taste odd without an appropriate pairing of food.
I had previously tried Leaf’s champagne and cassis tea and it is one of my favourite teas. With a jelly being made from this tea, I was super hyped and indeed this did not let me down. I wolfed this down and wished there was more! The biscuit was made in the shape of a hexagon by the baker as an acknowledgement of Manchester’s worker bee identity. This was paired with the silver needle tea, a white tea. I find white teas to be very neutral tasting and this might be due in part to the fact that it is the least processed of tea types, followed by green then black. It is high in antioxidants and low in caffeine. Given the light taste of the jelly, this tea paired well.
Overall rating and comments
8/10: -0.5 for the slight issues with the first two courses, -1 for the lack of mint flavour in the mint chocolate soufflé. -0.5 for not enough coulis in the third course and not enough jelly in the last course. Overall, very minor issues and it has opened my eyes to dessert and tea pairings. The explanations by Emma and Julija were excellent and the evening was very enjoyable.
I recommend anyone who likes cakes and tea to give this pudding club a go! They also do special vegan pudding clubs too, just check their events on their website for when the next pudding club is! If you like any of their teas, they also sell them in the shop and online also.
Would visit again?
I would love to attend another pudding club, but I best not go to these too often!
Address: 113–115 Portland St, Manchester M1 6DW
Have you heard of Leaf before? Would you go to a pudding club?
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*I was invited to the Leaf pudding club and did not have to pay for my ticket. The invitation was made in exchange for an honest review.