Lotus tea became the unique point of Vietnamese culture. With the history spanning more than 150 years, drinking tea is not the hobbies of noble classes but familiar with everybody.
History of lotus tea
Originally, lotus tea was invented under the Nguyen Dynasty reign King Tu Duc. At night, the servants would collect the nectar in the lake when they reached to the fullest. With their gentle care, they would fill the lotus flower with the tea leaves then peel back each petal of the blossom. After that, the flower was closed up with ribbon or silk string, which keeps the tea safe and dry inside and taken in the scent of the lotus through the night.
In the morning, the servants would return to the lake to carefully open the petals and take the green tea away. Now, the tea became lotus tea with a gentle sweet smell of the lotus flower. They had to prepare in time to bring the tea for the King’s breakfast.
From the Nguyen Dynasty then on, making lotus tea and drinking it became the custom for the Vietnamese.
Hanoi’s Lotus Tea Art
With the long tradition, Hanoians also make an art of their own precious lotus tea. For a long time, people in old villages near the West Lake have been famous for their lotus tea.
It takes up to 21 days and 1,200 lotus flowers for just a kilo tea. During the lotus season, locals has to wake up at 4 am to pick the lotus flowers. The flowers should be picked in the early morning because it can keep the scent best. After that, people would keep the lotuses in the small hut that set up on next to the lake to preserve the scent.
As you can see, making lotus tea requires patience and complicated skills. Therefore, most of workers hired for producing the tea must have good experience.
After collecting the tea, making-tea artists would separate the lotus stamen and clean it for scenting tea.
A layer of tea and a thinner layer of lotus stamen are staggered and then wrapped in moisture-proof paper or in lotus leaves in order to keep both the flavours of the tea and the lotus stamen.
After three days, the mixture of tea and lotus stamen is staggered repeatedly seven times. Then, on next 20 days, batch of lotus tea is completed. Later on, people would dry the preserved tea by a special kind of coal and stir-fried to keep the lotus aroma for as long as possible. Because of the strict and complicate production pregress, the price for one kilo tea can rise up to VND7 million.
West Lake lotuses stand out from those grown elsewhere in the country thanks to their enormous size and pure, special flagrance.
However, many of Hanoi’s tea artisans have had no choice but to give up on their long-standing craft, which has been passed down over several generations.
Besides making the tea, the lotus sellers can make more profits by charging people who want to take photographs with the ponds.