Time For Tea – Zealong Tea Tour, New Zealand

by Funhog Family on March 29, 2017

We left our hotel at 5:45a this morning to fly to the North Island. Landing in Auckland, I was not really looking forward to driving through a major city. It turned out to not be a big deal. The airport is on the south side of Auckland and with two turns we were headed out of town. Also, driving the interstate is much faster than all the two lane mountain roads we have been doing on the South Island.

We got to Zealong two hours before our tea tour began. So, we decided to have high tea. Sydney is not one who enjoys adventure with her food and only prefers things she is used to her mom making. That set the stage for me getting a double portion of high tea delights. I was not extremely hungry when we started eating, but at the price we were paying for the meal I was not willing for anything to go to waste. I will give it to Sydney though, she sampled everything and even ate a whole sandwich with a fillet of salmon on it! We learned from the experience and Sydney will only have high tea from now on at home with all the goodies only mommy can make. The highlight of our high tea was meeting and getting to pray for David, our waiter from Armenia.

After the high tea, we did the tea tour, which was fabulous! Miss Jeanna, our tour guide, did an amazing job educating us on tea production and how to properly enjoy a good tea. We learned so much and now understand why much of our previous tea drinking has been a bitter experience. There is a true art to creating tea and also an art to enjoying it. At Zealong, they are 100% organic and do everything to the strictest standards creating a super premium tea. The tea pickers (experts from other tea areas and locally grown experts) harvest the tea three times a year (November, February, March) for twenty days at a time. They pick the top three leaves of the plant (the youngest growth) and have special gloves with a razor blade in them to cut the leaves off. They make Green, Pure, Aromatic, Dark, Black tea at Zealong. All of these different teas come from the same tea plant (Camellie). It is the processing of the plant which creates the different varieties. The Pure, Aromatic, and Dark teas are all Oolong teas, which means the harvested tea leaves are rolled up into little balls. The Aromatic and Dark teas are oxidized (heated) for different lengths of time to create their taste. The Pure tea is just the leaves, without the oxidization process (no heat). The Green and Black tea are twisted instead of being rolled into little balls and oxidized also for different lengths of time to create their taste. The Black tea is oxidized the most and has the “darkest” flavor, but also very smooth! I learned that if you have a bitter taste in your tea, then you are heating it too long. I also learned that the Oolong teas need boiling water poured over them to bring out the flavor, but the twisted teas (Green & Black) should only have 85 degree water poured over the tea so you do not burn it. With Oolong you get eight cups out of your tea and with the non-twisted you get four cups. The whole experience was fascinating. We also learned there are tea masters, who can tell so many things from the smell taste and look of the tea before/after being exposed to water. Sydney liked dressing up like tea pickers the most and laughed heartily as I joined her in the costumes for a picture. We highly recommend doing a tea tour at Zealong if you are on the North Island, it is an experience not to be missed.

Sydney’s Take: The plane flight was pretty long (~2hrs). I really wanted to go to the tea place, so I was so glad to finally get there. We were early, so we decided to have high tea. All the food was fancy food and I did not like any of it, with the exception of a pesto sauce on a cracker bread. All the salmon, duck, chicken liver, and tea infused desserts were not my favorite! I liked the tea though, but learned they do not put sugar or milk in there tea (which I prefer). It was so so so so funny seeing daddy dressed up like a tea picker girl with me for a picture. Miss Jeanna, our tour guide, was really really nice. She let us taste a bunch of different types of tea. Alas, there was no sugar. I liked watching the video of how the tea was made and taking pictures by the statues. After the tea tour we found a camping spot near Hobbiton and I found a screw driver!

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The tea — who knew! There is so much to getting a good cuppa!

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