Culture Culture

14/01/2020 - 06:42

Falling in love with Vietnamese tea

At the age of 35, Tran Thi Thanh Nhi, Ph.D., (a lecturer of the Faculty of Literature, University of Education, Hue University) is one of three young Vietnamese artisans who will participate in the World Tea Brewing Championship 2020 taking place in China in next January.

The conversation between us and Dr. Nhi in the small tea space in the Citadel, which was established 5 years ago by herself, seemed like never end.

In the crisp weather, the owner of the teahouse welcomed us with a pot of tea brewed by herself. Receiving the faintly aromatic cup of tea, we can “listen” to the sweetness of Tinh Tam lake’s lotus flowers attaching in each sip, and ‘feel’ the air floating in the Shan Tuyet tea from Lung Phin commune, etc.

Dr. Tran Thi Thanh Nhi introducing the technique of brewing tea

Talking about Lung Phin, Dr. Nhi showed us the documents that she recorded in the former trips to Ha Giang for finding tea. In some long-day trips, she shared the daily life with tea-making people in Lung Phin to understand the “temper” of ancient tea trees and learn the secret of making tea of Hmong people in the tea capital of the Northwest area.

According to Dr. Nhi, Shan Tuyet tea growing in Dong Van Rock Plateau in Lung Phin can just be collected 2 or 3 times per year. To collect the high-quality material, she had to meet and make an order to local people one year in advance.

 “I have carried out many trips. However, throughout the tea region in the Northwest area, from Lung Phin of Ha Giang province to Ta Xua of Dao Đỏ minority people in Son La, etc., only San Tuyet tea is manually dried by the corncobs, as well as the corn stalks and corn leaves. The corn smoke slightly adhered to the tea and create the special flavor for the tea of the Hmong people in Lung Phin”, the young artisan said about one of the quintessence of Vietnamese tea which make her fall in love with.

To become one of the three Vietnamese young artisans who are chosen to participate in the World Tea Brewing Championship 2020, last September, Dr. Nhi had a chance to join the Tea Masters Cup Vietnam 2019 held in Ha Giang. Surpassing nearly 20 artisans nationwide, she won the first prize of the round “Tea and snacks”.

She brought to the competition a specialty of Hue tea, with the material was the green tea from the Northwest marinated with sweet Osmanthus flowers. About the reason why she chose this kind of flower, Dr. Nhi said that sweet Osmanthus flowers are one of the feature flowers of Hue, often being planted in the ancient royal residences.

Up to now, she has successfully restored many kinds of flower-marinated tea. Each kind of tea has its own special flavors. For example, Shan Tuyet tea in Lung Phin area which is scented with lotus flowers of Tinh Tam Lake brings the pure flavor, while Ta Xua tea which is scented with lotus flowers in West Lake of Ha Noi has the ardent flavor, etc. However, the green tea from the Northwest scented with sweet Osmanthus flowers gives a very special flavor.

Being well-informed about tea and having the special ability of scent feeling, Dr. Nhi confessed that she was mesmerized by the aristocratic and indescribable flavor in each cup of sweet Osmanthus-scented tea of Hue.

About the next international tea brewing championship, Dr. Nhi couldn’t hold back her happiness. For her, this is an opportunity to promote and introduce the quintessence of Vietnamese tea. “The competition will get the participation of many tea powers. I hope that the delicacy in materials, brewing recipes and tea culture of Hue will make the difference,” said Dr. Nhi

She revealed that she will bring the sweet Osmanthus-scented tea of Hue, which was made with the technique of “scent refinement” that she has worked hard to create.

Reconstituting the specialty of Northwest tea which is scented with lotus flowers of Tinh Tam Lake

To keep the flower scent in each cup of tea, the green tea buds have to be gone through the masterstroke of the scenting and drying techniques. Each thin layer of tea is scented with flowers. The brewing time will be decided depending on every season.

Sometimes, each batch of flower-scented tea has to go through 7 times of scenting and drying, lasting about a month to reach the right scent. This is also the secret, as well as the quintessence to create the special value for Vietnamese tea.

Regarding the upcoming plans, Dr. Nhi said that she is nurturing a dream to establish a tea institute in Hue for those who want to discover the Vietnamese tea culture. “Although Hue is not a well-known place for tea growing and producing, Hue is the land that has formed the sophisticated and elegant tea hobby, together with the traditional ancient space and the slow living lifestyle. Together with ao dai, “dạ thưa” word, Hue tea is a cultural and tourism specialty. If one can build up and develop the brand name for Hue tea, there will be more interesting destinations”, shared Dr. Nhi.

By Kim Oanh

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