Enjoying Lotus Tea

For a long time, people in villages around the West Lake in Quang Ba, Tay Ho and Nghi Tam have been well known for making lotus tea. It is the scented tea that forms the delicate art of enjoying lotus tea of Hanoians.

Lotus in this area of Hanoi is a rare variety and originated from Tri Pond near Tay Ho Temple. It is called “Bach diep” with large petals and a pleasant scent. Since the feudal regime, the locals learned how to scent tea with lotus which was a valuable offering to kings and mandarins. Today, lotus tea is a specialty of Hanoi for guests.

The process of making lotus tea is very complicated. Previously, people used to row a small boat out across lotus ponds to leave a pinch of dried tea inside each lotus flower that had just begun to open before dawn during sunny days. They will pick the lotus flowers to retrieve their tea the next morning after the tea absorbs the lotus’s scent.

However, there are now many methods in making lotus tea and the most popular is mixing tea with lotus anthers. The locals pick lotus flowers and then collect the anthers for mixing with the tea. A layer of tea and a thin layer of lotus anthers are staggered and then wrapped in moisture-proof paper in order to keep both the flavours of the tea and the lotus anthers. After three days, the mixture of tea and lotus anthers is separated and the process is repeated seven times. A batch of lotus tea is completed after 20 days.

Lotus in Tay Ho, also known as “Bach diep”, has large petals and a pleasant scent.. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

For a long time, people in old villages near the West Lake in Hanoi
have been famous for making lotus tea. Photo: Tat Son, VNP’s file

Separating lotus anthers for scenting tea. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

Dewdrops from lotus leaves are used to brew tea to create a distinctive scent. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

Tea scented with lotus flowers is wrapped in lotus leaves to preserve its flavor. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

Tea scented with lotus flowers has a distinctive taste. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

Enjoying lotus tea is a frugal, pure and noble pleasure of Hanoians. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

The way of enjoying lotus tea is sophisticated. Only by sitting in front of a lotus tea service, you can feel the uniqueness of this art by means of a complicated preparation, invitation skill and table setting.

Hanoians consider drinking lotus tea a very frugal, pure and noble pleasure and a delicate art. Therefore, on summer days lotus ponds next to the West Lake become a meeting place for a lot of people to contemplate the pure beauty of lotus plants and enjoy a cup of lotus tea and the fragrance of the lotus in the cool wind from the West Lake. 

Story: Ngan Ha – Photos: Tat Son & VNP’s Files