According to historical records, tea, associated with Buddhism, was and originated in pagodas and temples. It was called “Tea Meditation”. This form of tea then quickly became popular in Vietnamese royal court. In the past, that sophisticated tea was enjoyed by the king, mandarin, aristocracy, and noble lineage. Differently, people at normal class simply picked green leaves from tea trees, washed them, softly rumpled, boiled and enjoyed it. In the course of contacts with the Chinese and European industrial approach for many years, Vietnamese people also learned, practiced and created prerequisites for the development of Vietnam’s own tea industry.
Traditionally, drinking tea of Vietnamese is considered a daily habit of the old people in households and in society in general. In the morning, people start a new day with some cups of tea to wake their power. Patio or garden in the backyard is among the most favorite places for tea appreciating for its closeness to nature, as some fresh air can give extra flavor to the tea. Consuming tea after meals, especially dinner, is also a habit that is loved by many people, when all family members can gather and talk about what they have done during the day.
Tradition is out and modern is in, however, generation after generation, tea is not only part of Vietnamese everyday life, but also an essential part of the nation’s history and economy. No tea culture can be only expensive and rare. The basis of tea culture is its mass character, accessibility and integration into the daily and festive life of people. Tea is often served at the start of business meetings, during weddings, after meals or as part of a gossip between friends. Of course, people drink tea at home, any time of the day and for no specific reason. Drinking tea is a beautiful custom in Vietnamese culture.
Young Vietnamese generation enjoy tea in traditional style tea house.
In cities, people usually drink tea commonly in “quán cóc” – a typical of small street vendor – which can easily be seen everywhere, especially in front the gate of bus terminals, train stations, schools, office buildings, sidewalks or even in quiet alleys. There, people can spend a few hours to enjoy hot or iced tea and talk about the most updated news of the world! “Trà chanh” (tea served with ice, lemon and sugar) become an interesting modern trend of Vietnamese street culture for youngsters.
It has been a long way for the oldest of drinks, but tea is now in a place where it can truly be considered the most modern of beverages worldwide. If you ever thought of tea as a drink which takes a while to prepare, then you will be surprised by the diversity of Vietnamese teas today. Wherever you go in Vietnam, someone will certainly ask you: “Would you like a cup of tea?” – don’t take no for an answer, enjoy it because of local hospitality.
In Vietnam, the centuries-old tradition, the interference, and the future tea trends are uniquely combined.
The Vietnam Record Organization published the list of 50 gift specialties nominated by localities, tourism agencies, domestic and international tourists. The main ingredients include dried tea leaves and water. Other parts depend on the type of tea, which would be different flowers (lotus, jasmine), fruits, or herbs. The countless methods in which to prepare and enjoy them are very interesting to discover. For anyone searching for specialty Vietnamese tea, Vietnam Travel’s recommendation would be following avenues of exploration: traditional green tea from Tan Cuong (in Thai Nguyen Province); the emerging oolong tea market; and the variety of Vietnamese teas scented with flowers.
Green tea is the most popular tea type in Vietnam.
The most famous green tea is from Tan Cuong District (Thai Nguyen Province). Green tea is made of 4 steps: picking buds, wilting, cracking and drying. To prevent oxidation, when the tea buds are picked down, the process of wilting is carried out promptly, and the oxidation is immediately prevented by stir-frying or steaming. High temperatures will cause enzymes in tea leaves to stop working. It therefore contains the most antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols. Green tea fibers are shaped by rubbing on hands, pressing on a pan, rubbing or rolling, creating many different shapes. Green tea may help prevent a range of ailments including cancer and lower cholesterol.
Vietnamese green tea can be served in many styles, including boiled fresh leaves (the simplest way), loose leaf green tea brewed in hot water and added ice, sugar or lemon. Tea water is usually green or yellow.
Despite the origins from China, Vietnamese Oolong tea has a different taste from same kind of Chinese.
Cao Son Oolong is the only popular Oolong tea in Vietnam so people often misunderstand that Oolong is a kind of tea. In fact, it is a group of teas (besides green tea, black tea) including any teas that is partially oxidized from 8% to 80%. Oxidation is reflected in the color of the tea from amber to sepia. It takes so long time to produce Oolong tea. The process includes all 5 basic steps mentioned below, in which the step and oxidation are repeated many times. After each process, people keep the tea leaves rested to oxidize, then do it again many times in a few days.
Vietnamese lotus tea always brings a pleasant & mild taste among other common scented teas.
Beside green one, teas with the scent of flowers such as lotus, jasmine and grapefruit are unique examples of Vietnamese tea culture. The whole process is made by hand, in a very careful manner to transmit the natural scent (aroma and taste) into the tea. Scented tea allows the creation of a variety of blends, flavors and quality.
Among the common scented teas, lotus tea is represented as the national soul of Vietnamese tea culture. To produce the finest lotus tea, flowers of lotus must be picked when they have just bloomed and kept fresh. Lotus flower buds are very carefully peeled back, the petals preserved without a single rip or tear until the fresh green tea is put into. Once lotus buds are full of tea and rewoven, people keep them overnight and then, the process is reversed. Vietnamese people need to use nearly one thousand lotus flowers just to make a kilogram of lotus tea. Interesting, isn’t it?