Friday, April 25, 2014

VIETNAMESE LOTUS TEA




Harvest Lotus Scented Tea leaves from a Lotus Flower
Photo by hongdv / CC BY


Lotus Flower
Photo by T.Voekler / CC BY
 
Youngsters Hang out at Street Tea Cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam
Photo by sungityabang / CC BY
 
Wedding Tradition for Groom and Bride to Serve Tea to their Parents.
Photo by innerspirit / CC BY


Lotus Petal on Top, Stamen on Bottom
Photo by voyagesetc / CC BY







 




OTHER NAMES: trà sen, chè sen, or chè ướp sen (in Vietnamese)

Vietnamese lotus tea is a type of green tea that already absorbed the scent of lotus. Lotus is a type of flower that grows in a lake, and it symbolizes beauty, purity, and good fortune in Vietnam
 
Traditionally, workers will row out to the lake in the middle of the night when nectar of the lotus is at its fullest. Then, they will carefully open up all petals of the flower, fill it with green tea leaves (without making it wet), tie the petals together tightly with string, and let tea sits and absorbs the scents overnight. To collect the tea, workers have to row out to the lake again in the morning, open up the flower petals, and harvest the natural lotus scented green tea. Due to the natural process of making lotus tea, it is considered an art in Vietnam. [1]

HISTORY

Lotus tea was originally created for King Tu Duc during the 19th century Nguyen Dynasty, but the people also love the art of making tea and it became a custom for them to take their boats out onto the ponds and lakes on moonlit nights to make and collect lotus tea and nighttime dew that was formed. They would spend an afternoon enjoying the fresh lotus tea.

TEA PHILOSOPHY & CULTURE
 
As early as 13th century,  Vietnamese believed that tea assumed many philosophical values and it was a source of spiritual purity. They also believe that tea binds people together and express hospitality. You can find tea drinking everywhere such as friends and family gathering, guest visits, street vendors, tea cafe, tea house, tea boat, etc. [2] In Hanoi, it is trendy for youngsters to hang out at street tea cafe. They called it "Trà chanh." (literally means "lemon tea") or a slang for "hang out." Tea is also the essential beverage for all types of rituals and celebrations. [3] There is an example from Seven Ivory Brides, “In a traditional Vietnamese Wedding, the Groom and the Bride in front of all their family and friends will serve tea (or wine) to their parents. Their parents would take turn to give their blessing, advice about marriage and family to the couple…” [4]


FLAVOR

Lotus tea is often served hot and it has a crisp, clean flavor, with a hint of vanilla, and sometimes even a slightly bitter aftertaste of anise seed, lingering in the mouth.

PREPARATION
 
Because of the slow, careful, labor and time intensive process, only about thirty families still produce lotus tea using the centuries old, traditional process. [5]

Modern ways of making Lotus tea includes: 
  • Stuffing green tea leaves into a flower and leaving them overnight
  • Pulling the entire stamen from the flower or just their anthers and then either
    • Jar them overnight with the tea leaves with them
    • Bake the tea leaves with them [6]
Lotus Tea is best to brew for 2 minutes using cooler brewing temperatures. (160°F/70°C) While this tea is already astringent, it can easily become bitter if brewed with water that is too hot or steeped for too long.