Vietnamese Tea Culture in the Local Life

Vietnamese people have used tea throughout the year. You can find it on street stalls, in teapots of families, or in luxury restaurants.

Sipping a cup of tea is the beginning of the meetings and conversations of close friends, of the random exchanges to turn from strangers to friends.

Tea in Vietnam has become a bridge that initiates emotional communication in daily life, an indispensable drink for Vietnamese people.

vietnamese tea culture

Origin of tea

The origins of tea can trace back more than 4,000 years in China. And a tea story is more mythical than true. When King Nong (Farmer King) patrolled the South, accidentally drank a leaf falling in a pot of boiling water. It made his spirit happy and excited, so he called it Tea.

Or there is a medically savvy man who discovered tea as an herb in 2737 BC when a few leaves fell into his boiling kettle. After drinking it, he had magical ability. Immediately he put tea on the list of herbs.

Tea good for human health

Many scientists have proven that green tea is a treasure trove of biologically active substances, including polyphenols, alkaloids, amino acids, vitamins, flavonoids, flour, tannins, and saponins. There are 12 groups of active ingredients in tea.

Tea has the ability to stimulate the body to work better and bring joy. Tea creates benefits for respiratory and cardiovascular health. It can inhibit and prevent cancer cell growth because tea contains a drug called ECGC (Epigallocatechin gallate), which has anti-cancer properties (from preventing cancer cells to stopping the spread of tumors). ECGC has 100 times stronger antioxidant vitality than vitamin C and 25 times more than vitamin E.

Different ways to drink tea

In the world, many countries grow tea, creating various ways to drink it.

Drinking tea becomes an art form that exists in China and Japan, where tea has been once considered a religion.

In Vietnam, the style of drinking tea shows the cultural aspects of Vietnamese people’s behavior. And the way of making tea is also very unique. The ancient ancestors said that making tea is an art, and art is not a recipe.

Therefore, the ancestors often had a way of drinking tea as follows: before drinking, they often put it through their nose to enjoy the taste of tea, then gradually lower it to their mouth, take a small sip, feel bitter, the roots of the teeth feel strong as if they are tight.

Vietnamese people use original tea, then marinate it with many different ingredients to become lotus tea, jasmine tea, white jade tea, honey tea, longan tea, and ginseng tea. Each tea has a different flavor, and lotus tea is the most precious; in the past, only for kings to enjoy.

Vietnamese people enjoy tea alone or with friends. And, the way to drink tea still has standards of quality and character.

The water used to make tea is usually rainwater collected in the sky, or from natural springs; more sophisticated is the dew on lotus leaves in the early morning.

The way to boil the water must also ensure that it remains calm and does not affect the taste of the tea. The Vietnamese call it Nhat Thuy -Nhi Tra, meaning the first is water and the second is tea.

Choosing a good tea must cover five elements, including color, qi, fragrance, taste, and feelings (sắc, khí, hương, vị, thần). It is the feature of a process. The most important is feeling (thần) – the attraction of tea to the person enjoying it.

In the drinking tea art, the third is a cup, and the fourth is a teapot (Tam bôi, tứ bình). It means a set of tea-making and drinking utensils, including a kettle (teapot) and 4 small cups, and one big cup to mix tea.

For tea friends, it seems to be more difficult than finding friends to drink beer or wine. Because tea friends are good friends who can enjoy tea together, recite poems, express feelings, or discuss family and social situations.

A tea connoisseur chooses the time to drink tea at dawn around 4-5 am when the yin and yang times harmonize, the night lasts and the new day comes. Drinking tea at this harmonious time will benefit health and soul, giving tea drinkers good things.

Regarding the tea space, it also requires a large area to enjoy the essence of tea. The place to enjoy tea often carries the direction of Zen culture – purity, elegance, and mellowness. Ideally, the sites have beautiful natural scenery, and quiet surroundings, inside with pictures, calligraphy, a reading corner, or a chess board.

In general, Vietnamese tea culture has been summarized with both sophisticated and rustic features.

Daily modern tea drinking

Above is the art to taste tea. Tea in normal life has quite different enjoyment. Serving this drink in modern life at a fast speed of society requires convenience and fast.

Thus, the sellers can contain the tea in many types of cups, including paper or plastic cups, not jade or beautiful pottery cups as in the artic drinking.

You can find iced tea sold at shops along the streets, typically in Hanoi. Many people like to drink tea at night on the pavement for fresh air.

How about you? Will you taste a cup of tea in Vietnam?

About the author


Editor at HueFlavor is a15-year local guide, Mr. Ho Thom, who loves local food in Hue as well as in Vietnam. Trusted by hundreds of guests around the world.