Tea enjoyed by Hanoians

In the days between the end of Autumn and the beginning of Winter, when the first monsoon winds come, we enjoy a cup of tea together with our friends to better feel life and the outstanding cultural features in tea enjoyment by Hanoians.

For four thousand years, ancient Vietnamese knew how to scent tea with lotus, jasmine, aglaia, daisy and orchid to enrich the taste of this elegant pleasure. In the reign of Tu Duc, people packed tea into small-sized paper bags and put these bags into each lotus. At night, the lotus closed to cover the tea bag all night. When scenting tea in a great quantity, people picked up white seeds at the top of the pistil, also known as “lotus rice” and then mixed it with the tea and brewed it. When the lotus rice shrank, tea was dried with hot coals at a moderate temperature to keep the flower’s fragrance. To have tasteful tea, they had to be very fussy.

Developed during the late 12th century in Japan, tea enjoyment has become a typical feature in the culture of the land of the rising sun. From simple tea drinking, Japanese people studied the way of drinking tea and tea etiquette until it became an art. In the past years, this art has been introduced to Vietnam and has been quickly received by young people. Nowadays, it has been developed as a new trend. In Hanoi, there are many tea shops with new styles, meticulously combining Japanese tea enjoyment with Vietnamese teas to become a Vietnamese tradition.

The art of ancient Vietnamese tea drinking is summarised in two idioms: “First water, second tea, third cup, forth jar, five mates” and “alcohol should be drunk slowly but tea should be drunk immediately”. It means that once poured, tea must be drunk immediately so that you can feel its heat, its fragrance and its full taste. You should hold the cup of tea in your hands, slowly sip the tea and enjoy the tea with your soul and with your senses. A deliciouscup of tea shakes human intimate feelingsgently and in harmony with the sky and earth.

In the noisy urban atmosphere, Hanoians now like going to quiet tea shops to enjoy this elegant pleasure. At these tea shops, each room has wooden furniture for guests. Tea drinking is very suitable for groups of 3 – 4 people who need a quiet space to talk.

Nguyen Viet Bac, owner of a tea shop in Hanoi and a tea lover said “I told my pupils that if they want to drink Moc Thanh tea, they must pick the oldest tea leaves from the tree. For Hong Boi tea, made from O Long tea buds grown mainly in Bao Loc (Lam Dong), its buds are more special. On an O Long tree in particular and other trees in general, there are green aphids. These buds have been attacked fiercely by the insects, which make these buds special. For example, its vitamins will be different and such buds will be fermented even when they are still on the trees.”

Some special types of Vietnamese tea, made mainly from O Long tea buds.

The art of enjoying tea by the Vietnamese people is summarised in a saying:
First water, second tea, third cup, forth jar, five mates.

Hanoians use a jar (or tea pot) based on the type of tea and the way to enjoy it.

Jars and bottles contain water for brewing tea.

A common cup is often small.

Some tea sets include a pot, big cup and a small cup to enjoy tea.

Tools for scooping tea buds into the pot for brewing are very special.

Depending on the size of the pot and the type of tea, it is required to brew properly. Otherwise, the tea delicacy may be lost.

If water for brewing fails to reach a sufficient boiling temperature, the tea will not be done.
If such water exceeds sufficient boiling temperature, the tea will be strong. In the past, it was called “burning” tea.

A space for enjoying tea of Hanoians.

According to the art of drinking tea by Hanoians, when receiving guests, it is required to pour tea into a big cup and
then divide it into small cups. When pouring into small cups, the stylish person will pour a little tea
into each cup and then make a cycle of pouring. In doing this the tea will have the same taste.

The art of drinking tea is very suitable for groups of 3 – 4 people who need a quiet space to talk.

A Hanoi girl enjoying tea.

Drinking tea in an old space has gradually become a new trend for young people in Hanoi.

During the days in early winter when the first monsoon winds come, it is very interesting toenjoy a cup of tea withfriends
to better feel life.

By Cong Dat