It is a story that started more than 20 years ago when schoolmates Sen Kong and Miel Meyer shared the bus to and from school. Working now in these Award winning and iconic local businesses of Zealong and Meyer Cheese respectively were not necessarily the futures they imagined themselves in all those years ago, but imagination and passion have a way of bringing bright minds together and great ideas forth.
This story is as much one of heritage as it is of innovation and new futures. It is as much about New Zealand’s few degrees of separation as it is about creating a beautiful product locally, but at a level of global recognition. It is a story too good not to share in times where New Zealand has lost some of that direct contact with the world and our otherwise celebrated global cultures.
15 years ago no one would have thought to grow tea in the Waikato, nor even thought it was possible and yet today you can see the rewards from a labour of love in the more than 1 million camelia trees planted at the Zealong Estate. Cheesemaking has had more of a role in New Zealand’s young history, but the Meyer family have shown pride in their roots by creating uniquely New Zealand Gouda, a cheese normally thought of as Dutch but the Meyer cheeses easily being on the world stage using tradition and amazing Waikato ingredients.
Just as convention would have said Oolong tea and Gouda cheese could not be a premier product from the Waikato region of New Zealand, most wouldn’t expect them to make for an elegant and delicious pairing. But this is what defines these two companies, Zealong Estate and Meyer Cheese. Both local, both passionate about their product and both driven by collaboration and the energy of bucking the trend. Celebrating tradition and culture, but in a way that is truly Kiwi. It is this communion that has given great pride in our worlds’ first tea-infused cow’s milk cheese. There are two versions of the Tea Gouda, both made with cows’ milk, one with Zealong Green tea and the other Zealong Black tea and aged on wood for four weeks with turning daily. Here at Zealong, they call it Moolong cheese, but most of you will just call it damn tasty. As they say, don’t knock it till you try it.