Tea drinking has been a tradition of Vietnamese people for over three thousands years.There are many aspects of tea culture worth noting. The therapeutic and medicinal functions of tea are well known and in hot weather, hot tea is devoured for its surprising cooling effect, and in cold weather for its warmth.
Vietnam Tea Culture
There are many types of tea in Vietnam , each with its own unique flavor and properties. Tea cultivation , the history of tea in Vietnam , its relationship to the environment, its economic impact on the ethnic minorities who grow it , the aesthetic aspects and social importance of tea-drinking rituals, could all provide topics for extensive research.
Whereas in Vietnam, the tea ceremony is not elevate to the status of a religious sacrament as it in Japan, the preparation, serving and drinking of tea has great social importance than just a pleasant sign of hospitality . Drinking tea is a ritual preliminary to conducting business, to scholarly meditation, to getting acquainted, even to romance. Politicians consider tea drinking a means of easing tensions as the negotiation table. Upon entering a Vietnamese home , sometimes even before making introductions, guests are offered tea. It maybe taken as affront by the host if the guest refuse ( even politely) by saying: "No, thank you, I am not thirsty".
Wedding parties serve tea before and after ceremony. Couples in love, old or young ,use the ritual of drinking tea to express their affection and as a means to understanding each other. The importance of the tea ritual is shown by the fact that whereas serving liquor is duty relegated to servants, only the host or hostess prepares the tea.
According to the customs of Vietnamese people, on moonlit nights, devotees set their boats on the lake and ponds when the lotus flowers are in bloom. They open the about-to-bloom lotus flowers and place a lot of tea inside each blossom, then close them with ribbon or string. Then they get the moonlit dew from the lotus leaves . By dawn, the living scent of lotus impregnates the tea , and the gatherers have enough dew to add to their teapots. After a few hours of sleep, they enjoy a blissful afternoon of tea.
It was during the Nguyen dynasty , with its new capital at Hue, that tea-drinking elevated to the status of art. In Hue tradition, tea table is smallish and set again the wall and only three sides available. The room would normally be intimate and tasteful decorated , although a tea course may also be held in a garden. A skillful tea drinker planning a tea course will select the tea services and design reflect or complement the weather. Members of the Nguyen dynasty used pots and cups with weighted, rounded bottoms that, if disturbed, would rock a bit, then right themselves. This symbolized the nation to survive despite its historical ups and downs.
A tea course requires a brazier, a boiling pot, an erthenware pot of cold water (usually rain water, and in special occasions some dew gathered from lotus leaves) , a tea pot, teacups, tea box and few pieces of Aquilaria, and aromatic wood. Your host will boil the water for a few minutes , then take it off the fire and let it about 90?C. It is poured gently into the teapot, and cover tightly for about five minutes.
While the tea is steeping, skilful tea drinkers will comment the fine aroma of the tea, always keeping the tea as to the focus of the conversation, as you would do at a wine tasting . From the teapot, the tea is poured into a large cup called soldier-cup. This procedure ensures even distribution of tea’s flavor and color. If it were poured directly into each cup, the first cup would be more diluted than the last. As you sip the tea, discuss its taste and the mood it brings to you. Poetry ia always a good subject at the tea course, but nothing of the past, nothing of the future. The subject belongs only to the present.