Over the Easter weekend, I had a lovely time traveling around Cambridge, Hamilton, Rotorua, Tauranga and Taupo. Being able to go on these trips is an opportunity I adore and treasure always as it takes me away from the hustle and bustle of my daily life as an employment lawyer. During the Easter weekend, we did so many activities and created many beautiful memories and for that, I am truly grateful. One of the activities that stood out for me was visiting the stunning Zealong Tea Estate in Gordonton where you can find 100% pure New Zealand Tea. We arrived on a beautiful morning and our tour guide Germán was there to show us around the estate and he explained the processes and demonstrated the tea drinking ceremony to us. Of course, we got to partake in it too. He was friendly, knowledgeable and most importantly passionate about his job, which is always great to see, especially me being an employment lawyer, it’s good to see that there are definitely employees out there who love what they do and of course employers who take good care of their employees. We were told Vincent Chen’s (the founder) vision was to create the world’s purest tea without any compromises. This means the best of the best and I truly admire his vision and business ideals.
The Waikato area has the perfect condition to grow camellia and there are 1.2 million tea bushes in Waikato. Tea picking season is usually in November, January and March and there would be 28-30 tea pickers who would fly from Taiwan to do the tea picking. Not just any tea pickers. They are the ones hand picked from Taiwan’s tea growing regions as well as locally and these highly skilled workers specialise in the art of tea making, from picking and drying; through to grading and packing. Like many dreams worth pursuing, it was not always a bed of roses as it took New Zealand’s strict Quarantine department about ten months to approve some of the seeds flown in from Taiwan and eventually to say yes to Vincent’s dreams and vision. The rest is history.
What I love about this tea plantation is that it truly is a Pacific Garden of Eden as tea grows naturally, free of chemical sprays or fertilisers. This is acknowledged by the prestigious accolade: Zealong is the world’s only tea company fully certified to the world’s highest food safety standard: ISO 22000 HACCP. This includes traceability of every Zealong pack back to the day and block of pick. The tea is lower in caffeine as there are no pests that attack the camellia tree. I learned so much about the art of tea and tea-making and felt so inspired by it all. The tea drinking ceremony was such a unique experience. We got to try out a selection of tea and learned not to pour boiling water straight onto the tea leaves as that will burn it. Wait for the boiling water to cool down a little bit; and how long for is really dependent on the tea you have selected. For black tea, you’d need to wait a little bit longer for the water to cool. Who knew?
Here are some snapshots we took:
I felt like we were walking through one of those storybooks and I’m somewhat lost in this daydream. After the tea drinking ceremony where I sampled each and every tea, we were invited to the Camellia Tea House to enjoy our favorite Zealong tea and was served a platter of fine sweet treats. The experience was truly a unique one and one I would personally recommend my family, my friends and my readers to go along to and immerse in the experience as it’s definitely a must-do when you are visiting the region. Some notable guests at the Zealong Tea Estate have included New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and entrepreneur Jack Ma. Thank you so much to the team at Zealong Tea Estate for their impeccable service and for hosting us, we will definitely be back with our friends and family.