One of the big advantages of living in Myanmar is the ability to visit different countries in the region. Flights are relatively inexpensive and more and more carriers connect directly to Yangon. Every country in the region has their own tea culture and traditions full of tea surprises. Normally I just enjoy being with my family and somehow tea will find me. That was the case most surprisingly on our family trip to Hanoi, Vietnam.
My wife, Ms. Tea put together an amazing long weekend trip. I have been a fan of the Vietnam tea culture for a long time, most importantly for its famous Lotus flavored tea. The lotus flower gives the tea a unique taste. I was fascinated by the story of how high end lotus tea is made. Workers would carefully place tea wrapped in rice paper in the lotus flower in the afternoon. The lotus flower would close its pedals overnight and would flavor the tea. In the morning the workers would pick up the flavored tea. I had the privilege to taste such a lotus green tea and it has a very special and delicate taste.
There have been several unique moments, where tea found me. Normally just walking in the local market in Asia and it will be just a matter of time until I spot a tea vendor. I found an amazing shop in the market district of Hanoi and purchased different types of green and oolong teas including of course some fresh lotus green tea.
One day during our visit we had a tour guide who would show us around the city and give us an in depth glimpse into Vietnamese culture.
The Big Surprise
The highlight of the trip was unexpected. A big tradition in Hanoi is to visit a water puppet show. There are several locations around the city. We chose the show at the Museum of Ethnology (highly recommended!) which offers several shows a day. As we were seated to watch the show, we all received a cup of green tea. It tasted very good and I asked our guide where the tea is from. He pointed to the theater stage and I realized that the theater was surrounded by tea plants. I immediately jumped up and inspected the plants. What a great experience being up and close to tea plants in the middle of the city! Our tour guide just picked up a leaf and started chewing it. I did the same and it is a unique experience.
Even a trip to the supermarket will help you find high quality loose leaf tea alongside the tea bag boxes. One tea surprise I found was an instant matcha kit with its own matcha glass!
In the next blog posts I will share with you my tea surprises in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, and of course Myanmar.