Drinking tea in paradise is the perfect start to the year.
The tea-drinking year starts with a bang: in the Far North of this beautiful country drinking tea by a brook in a forest clearing.
And it’s no billy tea we’re swilling at our riverside rendezvous; my dear friend Dean comes up trumps with a spread that features tea-pot tea, fine china cups and superb cakes.
Such quality tea-partying is a grand way to see-in 2021. The old year was not a good one. In September, cancer claimed my Beloved – the man who, for nearly three decades, brought me my first cup of tea of the day and enthusiastically accompanied me on my tea-drinking travels.
Right about now, we should have been drinking our way around the South Island. Instead, though, I am at home in the North, introducing my brother to our sun, sand and culture.
And Dean’s forest feast is our first stop.
My Marks out of 10
Cup scores 10: Royal Albert Canterbury. Belonged to Dean’s grandmother, and he’s got it out especially for my visit. Superb.
Tea scores 9: Dilmah English breakfast, teabag made in pot. Dilmah is an old favourite and a staple of our house for many years (I never did break my Beloved of the habit of making tea with bags). Recently, though, I’ve thought it tasted a little flat. This brew, however, is made with pure forest springwater and is delicious.
Setting scores 10: What could be better on a hot day than a camp kitchen beside a babbling brook and shaded by native forest? I bring fruit-mince tarts made by the chef at the delightful Le Bistro de Paris cafe in Whangarei, and another guest produces a loaf of genuine Lincolnshire plum bread, sent in a Christmas care package from home (it’s wonderful, rather like an old-fashioned tea loaf, and an excellent way to use up any tea left in the pot, should such a thing ever happen).
Dogs welcome? No, this is kiwi country, and they’re particularly vulnerable to our furry friends. Dean says a pair of kiwi often take a night-time stroll along the stream his water comes from.
Location: This spot is by invitation only, but the world is full of ideal places for you to create your own outdoors high tea.