Something unique about tea culture in Vietnam is the tea stalls that we can find at practically every street corner in Hanoi. People would drop by for 10 to 30 min, just enough time to refresh themselves with a glass of tea and exchange a few words with the other customers. Late at night, it is also at these stalls that people meet to socialize.
This tea stall existed since her grandmother. People keep on returning to this stall because of the outstanding quality of her tea. She say that the secret to the success of her business, but also the most difficult aspect of her business is the ability of picking the right tea when buying it. A skill that she has yet to acquire from her mother. We think that the other secret to the success of her stall is her incredible hospitality.
As we discussed Vietnamese tea, other customers joined in. Being surrounded by many tea enthusiasts, we couldn’t help but unfold our tea tasting kit and offer the customers to sample our Japanese green tea, Chinese green tea, Darjeeling black tea, and Taiwanese wulong. It was very interesting to see the customers reaction as they tasted the different teas. They swore that the wulong and black tea had scents added to them. They made the oddest grimace as they tasted both black tea and wulong. They much preferred the two green teas although different from what they were used to. They especially appreciated the Japanese green tea because we accidentally over infused it and it ended tasting as astringent as Vietnamese tea. Only the owner of the stall was capable of appreciating the uniqueness of each tea all the while explaining to us that the black and wulong tea wouldn’t suit the Vietnamese sense of taste.
It was then that we started understanding how the Vietnamese liked their teas.