A journey to remember
Tea is a staple of everyday life in Vietnam.
Tea drinking is not only reinvigorating and a source of spiritual purity; in Vietnam, it brings people together. At weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, ceremonies. Or even just to kick-start the day with family or the neighbors. Families keep a thermos of boiling water ready and fill tiny ceramic teapots with green tea leaves as visitors arrive. As the art of imperial tea drinking makes its return, you can see charming old ladies selling tea to guests sitting on ankle-high stools at every Hanoi street corner and across Vietnam. Green tea, jasmine, artichoke, and other varieties are popular.
At Journeys to the East, tea becomes the centerpiece when guests partake in a traditional tea ceremony called Tra Dao.
Inside a traditional timbered mandarin ancestral hall house built in the late 19thcentury, our Tea Master carefully selects tea leaves from our stock of delicately aged teas, some as many as 60 years old. Oolong from BaoLoc in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. PuErh from China’s Yunnan province. And Taiwanese green tea are among the fine selection.
Brewing the tea calls for special utensils. So special, in fact, tea lovers sometimes spend more money on the utensils than the tea itself! Place the funnel on the teapot when filling it with tea. Gently scoop the tea out of the bag and place it into the teapot via the funnel. If cups are too hot to touch, use a set of tongs to empty them. Scrape used tea leaves out of the teapot, clear the spout should it become blocked and empty to the tea tray.
After the tea leaves are placed in the gathering cup, they then develop their distinctive aroma in a covered porcelain cup – known as the fragrance cup. The brew is then finally poured into smaller porcelain drinking cups. Before sipping his or her tea, one is handed the fragrance cup’s lid to savor the scent of the tea. The white interior of the fragrance cup and drinking cups allow you to gauge the tea’s color and compare it to its aroma and taste.
The tea drinking ceremony is accompanied with sweet delicacies such as dry plums and pineapple cookies.
As more and more luxury tea shops open their doors in Hanoi and Saigon, selling exquisite tea utensils and fine selections of tea, the fine art of tea drinking is being restored to its former glory.