Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The End of Winter - A road trip to Hamilton and a good cuppa!

Well here we are again, now almost at the end of winter. Things have naturally been a little quiet around here so my good friend, Pam and I decided that a road trip was in order!

We set off on a grey day that promised rain and headed down the southern motorway for Hamilton. The journey there and back is easily completed in a day now the roads have been improved. We arrived in Hamilton around 11am and spent a couple of hours visiting with Pam's Dad, catching him up with all the family news. About 1pm we set off for the Zealong Tea Plantation, just on the outskirts of the city, set in lovely countryside.

The grounds of the Plantation are dotted with statues and figurines depicting different aspects of the tea trade (and on a warmer, sunnier day we will return to have a proper look).

For now though this photo indicates the type of things you can see. These teapots at the carpark were quite amusing, they form a dragon shape, which you really can't appreciate from this photo, but you get the drift!

All around the Tea House are row upon row of clipped camellia bushes - they stretch forever!

I believe the picking of the new leaves begins in October. Zealong are 100% organic and produce four flavours of pure tea. There is also a tour of the grounds and production plant if you wish to know more about how the leaves are processed. Something for our next visit in the springtime. 

On entering the tea house we were greeted by a very friendly maitre d and shown to our table. It seems to be a popular place and reservations would be recommended.

The dining room was a delight - beautifully upholstered furnishings created a feeling of luxury and despite being busy it was very quiet and serene. Beside each table is a wooden box upon which a tea kettle sits to keep the water for your tea at the correct temperature. Within minutes of us settling in a young lady came with a selection of the teas on offer and she very clearly explained how to pick your tea, how long it infuses for and how many times it could be infused. At each place there was a porcelain cup with a strainer and a lid for our use. Pam chose the pure oolong and I chose the black - both so yummy and fresh. The black was mellow and had hints of honey - and no milk was involved!!! Our orders for our lunch were taken and before long we were tucking into the most beautifully presented meals we have had for quite a while.

tea kettle keeping warm

Pam's Chicken Hotpot

Pam's fruit platter with chocolate ganache

We couldn't fault the meals or the way they were presented to us. We spent over two hours there and can honestly say it was one of the most unique dining experiences either of us have had in New Zealand. We would really recommend it!

We came away feeling pampered, spoiled and really well cared for and will be back very soon...............

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