Christel Yardley's experience of High tea at Zealong Tea Estate near Hamilton.
A taste of… Zealong Tea Estate, 495 Gordonton Rd, Hamilton.
We had heard... Zealong Tea Estate was the only tea estate in New Zealand. I also heard the best high tea was here, perched above the tea fields. The food was rumoured to be rather good too.
We ate...The classic high tea ($45) was a stand out from the menu. We were educated about the five different tea infused selections - green, pure, aromatic, dark black. The highlight was the crepe filled with smoked salmon, grilled asparagus, lemon dill, mascarpone and fish roe. I'm not usually into seafood but this was definitely an exception. The green-lipped mussel and sweetcorn fritter was also excellent.
A trip to Zealong is more than a visit, it's an experience so we indulged in a selection of Zealong tea-infused petit fours and cold set desserts. Some of the hand-crafted patisseries stood out, particularly the feather-light, Zealong green tea-infused chiffon tea cake. However my eating partner thought the crispy tea dusted macaroon was a bit of a let down. I must say the most exceptional bite was the tea tart - blend of Zealong dark tea with ground almond encased in a sweet shortcrust pastry finished with an apricot glaze.
The service was... Exceptional. The waiter explained how different teas are infused over various time frames - this is the key to tea success, apparently. You can over infuse. And with a constant hot kettle at your side you have an endless tea supply.
The vibe was.. On point. You felt as though you were in Asia surrounded by tea fields
But try to avoid... If you sit inside be sure not to sit at multiple round tables if you are in a large group because the seating arrangements make it a bit awkward.
Rating out of 5... 4. I think they could have a few more savoury items because my eating partner didn't feel satisfied when we left.