Miel Meyer typically judges a good gouda cheese on how it stacks up in a grilled sandwich, and his new tea cheeses – green and black – get the nod on this. The aromatics and flavours are excellent, he says. “And they’re showcasing the best of our region.”
Meyer is general manager of Waikato-based cheesemakers Meyer Gouda, and today he’s at Zealong Tea Estate, Gordonton, for the launch of what is believed to be the world’s first tea-infused cows’ milk cheese.
The tea goudas bring together two award-winning Waikato businesses to create this unique new product: the Meyer family is known for its full-bodied, Dutch-style wheels of brine-salted goudas, made at its Koromatua dairy farm, and Zealong grows and makes 100 per cent organic teas on its lush Gordonton estate.
The two companies are celebrating the happy marriage of tea and cheese, along with the “only in New Zealand” back-story that Miel Meyer and Zealong general manager Sen Kong went to high school together in Hamilton. They shared the same school bus, and nowadays they’re collaborating on something that neither of them could have dreamed of when they were schoolmates.
Meyer and Kong are both committed to their respective products, they like bucking the trend, and the tea cheeses are a mix of innovation and hero Waikato ingredients. Zealong has named the cheeses Moolong, and if you think they sound an unlikely combo, think again. These are damn fine products.
The cheeses are infused with finely ground tea powder and a small percentage of tea leaf, aged on wood for four weeks and turned daily to ensure balanced flavours. The green tea cheese is deliciously creamy and delicate, the black tea wheel has bolder, sharper flavours, and each is subtly coloured by its respective tea. You can’t miss which is which on look or taste.
They’re passed around the launch crowd, sampled with cups of Zealong green and black, and they get wide approval.
A pet calf named Bailey from the Meyer family’s dairy herd is present at the launch, and Zealong’s blend master Amy Reason is wok-drying green tea leaves picked in the tea plantation that morning, to make a brew for guests.
It all adds to the distinctive nature of the event, with cows and tea leaves at the heart of it. Bailey later curls up on the grass for a nap, and the freshly made green tea is declared an aromatic treat.
Miel Meyer says the cheeses we’re enjoying are “Version 2.0” and they’re the result of many months of testing and tasting at Koromatua and Gordonton. They may have some more aging ahead of them but he’s very happy with the result so far.
And, yes, they’re a great addition to his lunchtime grilled sandwiches.
– Denise Irvine
- Tea cheeses are available online at www.meyer-cheese.co.nz