The World’s Purest Tea

A few kilometres north of Hamilton the family farm on Gordonton Road holds fond childhood memories; the road still very familiar, despite my grandparents’ farm being sold many years ago.

Heading to the Bay of Plenty last week, on Gordonton Road just before you reach the farm is Zealong, home of the world’s purest tea and New Zealand’s only tea plantation – originally a dairy farm in years gone by. Pulling into the carpark on a Tuesday mid-afternoon, the number of cars was a surprise.  Even more so to find the cafe restaurant full: ladies indulged in a decadent high tea; tourists ate a late lunch and an elderly local couple simply enjoyed a cuppa and the view out over the tea plantation.

Hot water at a constant temperature

Hot water at a constant temperature

Delighted to be offered a window table, the outside terrace was too cold to be pleasant on a brisk winter’s day.  I looked forward to a pot of tea, the choice of: Green, Pure, Aromatic, Dark and Black teas.  Aromatic promised an intense fragrance, subtle flavour and a hint of fruit and flowers; it lived up to expectations. The china tumbler and tea leaf filled strainer, a large pot of gently bubbling water at my side, my waiter assured 8 cups from one serving of leaves with a reminder to only seep for 1-2 minutes each time.

Zealong's Aromatic Tea

Zealong's Aromatic Tea

Warmed by the copious quantity of tea, the walk back to the car overlooked the 100% organic tea plantation.  One imagined the delight of a walk amongst the plantation on a sunny warm day. The tea walk is part of the twice daily (open 7 days excluding most public holidays) Discover Tea Experience including:

  • Tea walk
  • The Zealong story
  • Traditional tea ceremony
  • Zealong tea tasting
  • An opportunity to pose for a photo in traditional tea picking garb
Zealong tea tasting

Zealong tea tasting

For more information and to make a booking click here: Discover Tea Experience - Tours - Zealong

Take time to enjoy the garden – the giant-sized teapots and cups a delight and the copper statues of workers in the plantation add to the picturesque scene. Zealong tea is available to purchase at the shop or nationwide stockists, click here: Zealong - 100% Pure New Zealand Tea

Zealong copper teapots in the gardens

Zealong copper teapots in the gardens

For those of us who love a local collaboration, why not try Whittaker's Waikato Grown Oolong Tea – dark chocolate infused with Aromatic Oolong tea.

If you love tea, you’re in great company too.

Famous tea lovers

Famous tea lovers

Enjoy, Michelle.

Cookbook Review: Love & Food At Gran’s Table

Bright lattice picnic chairs surround a wobbly afternoon tea table beautifully decorated with real china cups, saucers and plates.  Squealing children play football underneath trees laden with late summer fruit. 

The fluorescent orange plastic ball is suddenly airborne.  It skims the top of Nana’s sponge taking with it the cream which lands squarely in Grandad’s lap. Aghast, his head tips backwards.  His mouth slowly broadens into a huge grin and raucous laughter escapes.  As tears start to roll down his unshaven face, the children release loud gasps of relief.

Laurel Aulick’s sponge recipe entitled, ‘Nana’s Foam Cake’ took me back nearly 40 years to a late summer afternoon under the plum trees in my grandparent’s garden, and kicking that ball. My Nana was the queen of sponges. Sandwiched together with raspberry jam, sometimes simply dusted with icing sugar, other times topped with a thick layer of freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit slices.  Although I must admit despite being a passionate cook, creating the perfect sponge still continues to elude me.

Nana's Foam Cake -  Laurel Alick (photo by Todd Eyre)

Nana's Foam Cake - Laurel Alick (photo by Todd Eyre)

Love & Food At Gran’s Table captures wonderful memories and treasured recipes of 60 grandmothers from New Zealand and around the world. Generations of grandmothers who have influenced children growing up, encouraging time spent with family and friends. They have instilled in their offspring the importance of giving, receiving and sharing food as the perfect way to bring neighbourhoods and communities together.

This collection of 120 recipes covers both savoury and sweet, along with stories told straight from the heart and peppered with framed portraits that bring real characters to life. Recipes from: smoked ribs, chop suey, mussel fritters and bacon and egg pie to sherry trifle (a Christmas favourite), coconut slice, puftaloons and rhubarb crumble have been collated.  Homemade preserves and chutneys are injected; and one for mustard pickle, perfect for non-ripening green tomatoes.

All four of Natalie Oldfield’s best-selling international cookbooks encapsulate her Gran, Dulcie May Booker’s mantra.

“It is not what you do, but how much love you put into the doing.”

Photographer Todd Eyre captures the essence of each dish and its creator.  From the montage on the unusual half cover-slip to the muted background tones of the recipe images you can imagine yourself sitting in their kitchens.

Natalie Oldfield’s fifth book will touch the hearts and bellies of those with fond memories of precious time spent with their nanas, grandmas and grans. Avid readers of cookbooks will enjoy the contributors’ stories and anecdotes as much as the recipes themselves. With Mother’s Day only a month away, this really is an ideal gift.

Published by PQ Blackwell, Love & Food At Gran’s Table is now available from book shops or can be purchased direct from Natalie Oldfield - Love and Food. RRP $49.95.