16:30 | 22/03/2016 Society
(VEN) - Tea cultivation and drink is a Vietnamese habit. This aspect of Vietnamese culture is becoming increasingly interesting to foreign tourists who want to learn about Vietnamese tea culture as a way to discover more about the local culture and people.
Tea as a national specialty
Tea is an indispensable beverage for Vietnamese, especially for special occasions like the Lunar New Year, funerals and weddings. This ordinary beverage has come to be regarded as somehow embodying Vietnamese culture.
Every Vietnamese village had a tea house, with a tea pot, few chairs and a tobacco hookah. Tea drinkers can sip tea while eating a sesame candy or a green bean cake. Tea pots may be found in every Vietnamese family and guests are often treated to tea while visiting. Royal families often had tea flavored with some aromatic flowers like jasmine and lotus and used upstream water or morning dew drops. At pagodas or monasteries, tea drinking is considered a form of meditation, highlighting the harmony of nature and man, the respect for the existence of all things, the physical and mental purity and the peace of mind.
Vietnamese tea culture has traveled through generations, but only in the ninth and tenth centuries under the Ly and Tran Dynasties did it be recognized as a national specialty. Tea has gradually become a characteristic of the Vietnamese society.
Introducing Vietnamese tea specialties to the world
Today, tea is one of Vietnam’s largest export items in terms of volume, helping rank the country among top-five world tea exporters, with an annual output of nearly 200,000 tonnes and about 70-80 percent of which dedicated to export. Vietnam’s tea products have been present in 120 countries and territories across the world, including Chinese Taipei, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Russia and the US. Vietnamese green and Oolong tea products are increasingly welcomed in recent years, bringing tea farmers and producers high profits.
Last year, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to talk with tea experts from Russia, the Republic of Korea and Australia at the Thai Nguyen Tea Festival, who all highly rated Vietnam’s domestic tea products. Ramaz O. Chanturiya, General Director of the Russian Association of Tea and Coffee Producers and Chairman of the Tea Masters Cup said that Vietnamese tea products had unique characteristics.
Tea artisan Hoang Anh Suong once said, “Japanese tea preparers appear wise as they attribute deep meaning to every action, Chinese tea preparers look picky and flashy and Vietnamese tea preparers look unobtrusively beautiful.”
Director of the Australian Tea Masters Sharyn Johnston has been impressed by the acrid characteristics of Vietnamese tea, which differ between regions and tea varieties.
Vietnam has several tea varieties including Tan Cuong green tea grown in Thai Nguyen Province, Shan Tuyet tea grown in Ha Giang and Moc Chau provinces and Oolong tea grown in Lam Dong Province. Tea products are categorized into dry and flower-flavored, dry and unflavored and fresh-leaf tea. The acrid characteristics of Vietnamese tea is rated leaving an unforgettable comfortable and little sweet aftertaste.
Both tea experts believed that if Vietnam further develops its tea culture it will increasingly consolidate Vietnamese tea brands in the global market and attract more tourists.