Unlike Japanese or British tea etiquette, Vietnamese tea culture does not require as many rituals to enjoy this healthy drink. In fact, sipping tea is a familiar activity yet a subtle art in the S-shaped country.
History of Vietnamese Tea Culture
When China occupied northern Vietnam in the 10th Century, they brought the tea culture and it has ever since influenced the Vietnamese lifestyle. After 1000 years being dominated, Vietnam eventually regained independence but many traditions and of course, a love for tea remained. In the period of the 13th to 15th centuries, the Vietnamese believed that tea represented philosophical values. Thus, many Vietnamese scholars used reading books and consuming tea as a means to escape from the chaotic life. However, it was not until the 1880s that French colonists established the first Vietnamese tea growing region in the area around Phu Tho – a province near Hanoi. At present, Vietnam is the seventh-largest global producer of tea with more than 100,000 tons imported each year.
Customs of Vietnamese Tea Culture
As a routine, Vietnameses often drink tea after meals to help digestion and cleanse the smell of food. Depending on their age and purpose, people will pick different types of tea. For instance, to enhance the immune system, elders choose teas with an acrid taste like green tea or oolong tea. Meanwhile, ladies choose green tea with a view to losing weight.
Apart from green tea, many Vietnamese prefer imported tea flowers
Though being a rustic and familiar drink, offering tea is a formal way to welcome any home visitors in Vietnam culture. Traditionally, the house owner prepares a finished teapot with tea leaves and boiled water in the kitchen. Then, he or she will bring the teapot to the living room and pour the tea water into cups for guests. In some families, dried fruits, candies or biscuits are provided to accompany the drink.
A complete set of tea
Tea is an indispensable part of important events like Tet, Mid-autumn Festival, or weddings. On these occasions, people gather and chit chat while enjoying this drink. Traditionally, the tea must be hot and poured into pottery cups. In addition, the younger generations must offer tea to older people using two hands.
Drinking Etiquette in Vietnamese Tea Culture
Originally, a tea course requires boiling water, tea leaves, teacups, and a teapot. First, tea leaves and the boiling water are put in the teapot, then the teapot is covered tightly for about five minutes. While waiting, people usually discuss the fine aroma of the tea and keep it as the main topic like wine tasting sessions. Once the tea is ready, the teapot is held with two hands, and tea is gently poured into each cup. After that, people sip tea while enjoying side dishes like confectionaries, sweetened dried fruits, or mooncakes.
Lemongrass and cinnamon can be added to the tea
Types of Tea in Vietnamese Tea Culture
This is the most popular type of tea in Vietnam with numerous kinds to note down. Several famous names include Shan Snow Tea; Thai Nguyen tea (Northern Tea, Bac Thai Tea, Moc Cau Tea); and fragrant green tea (Lotus Tea, Jasmine Tea, Grapefruit Tea, Wolf Tea). Green tea has various shapes from long pointed leaves, flat leaves to swirling leaves. Their color is usually greenish gray, dark green, light greenish-yellow but when brewing, they turn into beautiful bright green color and the tea water is also green or yellowish-green with an acrid taste.
Green tea helps to stay conscious all-day
Oolong tea is a large group of fermented teas ranging from 20% to 80%. This degree of oxidation is reflected in the color of tea leaves, ranging from green to yellow, from amber to reddish-brown. Since its taste is mildly acrid and sweeter than green tea, it is suitable for those having little experience with tea. When drinking, you will sense the smell of wood, chestnuts, floral or fruity aroma, honey flavor, etc.
Oolong tea can be a luxury gift in Vietnam
Black tea, also known as red tea, has reddish-brown tea water and stronger taste than others. However, Vietnamese people, especially old ones, do not prefer black tea. It is mostly seen in offices due to its convenience and used as an ingredient to make milk tea.
Milk tea – a combination of black tea, milk, cream, and artificial flavors
Grown in the high mountains of Northwest Vietnam, white tea is made entirely of young buds from large-leaf tea thriving in low temperatures. Unlike black tea, white tea has a delicate aroma and light yellow water. Since only tea buds are processed, the pharmaceutical substance in the tea is very high. Thus, the price of tea is relatively expensive compared to other types of tea.
Pu’erh tea is grown in the Northwestern mountains of Vietnam. It is often pressed into cubes, most commonly in shapes of cakes and tablets. The tea water is red or black brown and smells like wood or earth. On the surface, it often has a thin film-like oil drops. Unlike other teas that have to be drunk quickly, Pu’erh tea requires you to sip it slowly for a better taste.
Where to Try and Buy Tea in Vietnam
Phuc Long Tea Chain
Find store locations: visit Phuc Long Website
Opening hours: 7 AM – 10:30 PM
Tam Chau Tea Distributor
Find store locations: visit Tam Chau Website
Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 8 PM
Find store locations: visit L’angfarm Website
Opening hours: 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM
You can also buy tea at tea houses in Ho Chi Minh City
Summary of Vietnamese Tea Culture
Though Vietnam is more famous for coffee, Vietnamese tea culture is a diverse world you ought to explore. With numerous tea types, including older ones like green tea, oolong tea to modern ones like bubble tea, Vietnamese tea will satisfy everyone from elders to youngsters.
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