Fresh arrival from an old favourite

A mock passport invited us to "a truly exotic journey at The Elephant House, Auckland Zoo" and, since elephants are one of my favourite animals – I think they are magic – I couldn't resist.

A mock passport invited us to "a truly exotic journey at The Elephant House, Auckland Zoo" and, since elephants are one of my favourite animals – I think they are magic – I couldn't resist.

The occasion, the first in 100 years, was the launch of a new tea from New Zealand's oldest tea maker, Bell Tea. We all know the "feel alive flavour" of Bell, which is definitely a Kiwi icon, but research told the company that, as well as their old favourite, New Zealanders were seeking a relaxing and rejuvenating tea with more delicate characteristics.

Matt Greenwood, Bell's master tea taster sources the tea in the original red box from around the world, but for the new tea Bell Pure Ceylon, the leaves come from just one origin – Sri Lanka. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it, and Matt travelled throughout the tea plantations of the island until he narrowed the search to the acclaimed Watawala Plantations. Then, with Watawala's tea director, Dushy Tarnasingham – who was also at the launch – he composed the final tea, with its secret recipe, specifically for New Zealanders.

The high elevation of the Waitawala estates gives the tea a rich, golden colour and a smooth delicate taste, equally delicious with or without milk.

The new green pack, carrying the famous Bell logo, has been in supermarkets since mid-September, the colour reflecting the colours of the tea estates in Sri Lanka which so impressed Matt when he was there.

Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, has a heritage of tea growing stretching back to the 1800s, when the tea was rolled by hand on bungalow verandah floors and fired over hot charcoal. Quality has always been high in their teas and, although methods of tea manufacture have evolved over time, the value of the tea still depends on the skill and care of the plantation workers.

Allyson with Matt Greenwood, Bell Tea Company's master tea taster.

Allyson meets Auckland Zoo’s elephants, Burma and Kashin

An egg is not just an egg!
Eggs have had some bad press over the years, but they're back in favour as a convenient, nutritious contribution to our diet and health, with a high quality protein content. There are so many ways to prepare eggs or include them in dishes that they are also very versatile.

Anyone who likes thems will agree that eggs from free range hens have a definite edge over those produced in battery or other confined situations. There's nothing nicer than breaking open a fresh boiled, free range egg with its "curly" white and densely yellow yolk and lovely flavour.

Now there is Nutraegg from Farmer Brown, described as "Nature's multi vitamin". These eggs have increased levels of vitamins A, E, B5, B12, Folic Acid, Iodine, Selenium, Omega 3 and Omega 6 compared to regular eggs.

Too often nowadays, partly because of low base levels of some essential nutrients in our soil due to intensive farming and mineral leeching, partly because of a trend towards convenience and processed foods – often with high sugar and salt content – many people don't get their RDI (recommended daily intake) of some important elements.

As a result they turn to supplements, which are effective but expensive. Two Nutraeggs (one serving) provide the RDI of Selenium, vitamins E and B5 (Pantothenic acid) and Iodine as well as boosting intake of the other nutrients.

Zeagold Foods general manager Hamish Brown explained that the ends which lay Nutraeggs are fed a specialised vegetarian diet of selected whole grains, minerals and oils to enhance the nutrients that nature has already provided…wheat and barley contribute to the increase in B vitamins, peas and Lucerne to the increase in vitamin A.

The quality protein in these eggs is another advantage – eat them with carbohydrates such as bread and a serving will lower the meal's Glycaemic Index. The carbohydrates will break down more slowly, controlling the release of glucose into the bloodstream, which means a smaller rise in blood glucose levels after meals, improvement of the body's sensitivity to insulin, keeping you feeling satisfied longer and helping with weight control.

It all seems a tall order for a little egg – but eggs have always been a powerpack of goodness.

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