A pleasant idleness

(No.3, Vol.8,Jun-Jul Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

Lotus-scented tea takes away all worries and cares

One can come to photograph, to hire a boat and enjoy the lotuses, have a cup of lotus scented tea or simply enjoy the aroma of lotus being spread around by the generous breezes of West Lake
Early in the summer, lotus ponds around West Lake near the Water Park are the destination of many Hanoians. These are some real ‘oases’ for people to relax and fan away the heat. With only road seperating them from the lake, the ponds lie in a group and are leased to some families to develop. Late in the afternoons, when the sun rays get soft and colorful, and on weekend mornings before the sun is high this place is always full of people. One can come to take a photo of oneself among the lotuses.
Around the ponds, there are tea shops where tea is scented within the lotus taken from the pond and served on the spot. Good tea and sweet water scented with lotus, sipped with good old country sweets such as peanut or sesame candies. It doesn’t get any better than that. A pot of tea costs 30-50 thousand dongs, depending on the tea and the pond owner. For a group of friends 3-5, after walking around the ponds, taking photos and having all sorts of fun, having tea lets it all melt inside you. While sipping tea one can also watch how the tea is scented in the old way.
Mr Tuan from Hang Muoi Sstreet in of Hanoi, who once also involved in the lotus pond business has a special way to scent tea. He collects lotus stamen, fry dries it and then uses it to scent tea by putting alternate layers of tea and lotus stamen together and steep keep for a few days. Each batch of tea is scented that way six or seven 6-7 times so the lotus scent is imbibed deeply into the tea. This tea is sure to impress everyone. The price is also impressive, sometimes up to a few million VND, but it is in high demand nevertheless.
According to Greek mythology, the lotus plant caused those who partook of it to enjoy a pleasant drowsiness. Those who consumed it would forget their friends, their homes and their cares and live a life of idleness. Lotus-scented tea certainly relaxes, but it only seems to bring friends closer and fill one with nostalgia.

Text and photos by Le Bich
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