Bitter leaf, sweet harvest

No 3, Vol.8 ,July – August 2015

Green tea plantations in Long Son Commune, Anh Son District, Nghe An Province

Anh Son District of Nghe An Province has long been known as a land of green tea. I do wonder when it began. It is said that 50 years have passed since Anh Son District was founded, and the people here had already seen green tea plantations before that. I don’t know how true that statement is; only that Anh Son is where I was born and grew up. Therefore, whenever I go, I always turn my mind to Anh Son and the typical image that is closely associated with this land is green tea.
On any day-ordinary or special, cold or hot, every family has a pot of green tea. Hence, green tea has become an ingrained part of the culture of people in Anh Son District. Green tea is familiar, not only to the working class, but also those in offices. Every day, from commune to district, a server often simmers a boiling hot pot of green tea in the office so that everyone can drink. Many people are so addicted to green tea that in the early morning, they will feel restless if they do not drink a cup of green tea. They miss green tea like missing their lover. What a strange, fond remembrance!

Referring to Anh Son District means referring to verdant hill slopes; maybe you will see lots of different trees, but never can you mistake tea trees for others, because it is a specific feature to this land. Especially, in spring, how wonderful it is for me to get up early to deeply inhale then quicken my steps in green tea plantations. A fragrant breath of wind, coming from the distance, brings along the singing of wild birds. Not only do all of them give pleasure to me, but they also make me keep opening my eyes as though embracing the splendid natural scenery. More interestingly, I can both have tea with my beloved people and make the most of the new spring together. You can imagine how surprised many visitors are each time they come here and see immense, green trees across this exhausted land.
In fact, tea trees can grow easily without any pestilent insect harming them. Therefore, it takes people here little time to cultivate them. Unlike others, tea trees can grow well without manure or irrigation and can be harvested all year round. Thanks to these advantages, there are over 2.000 hectares of green tea. Not only do they give materials to the Anh Son Tea Factory, but also they are bought by people around here to simmer and drink by themselves. Economically, selling green tea makes high profits. However, it is worth mentioning that Anh Son District has not trademarked its green tea yet. Therefore, it is like the saying, ‘good wine needs no bush,’ but it doesn’t have a legal personality.
The scent of the green tea is special and cannot be mistaken for others. People tell the differences between green tea and other plants here because of its small leaf, thick edge and brittleness. When asked why the green tea here has such a delicious scent, many people answered that soil, the source of water and climate played an important role in making the delicious tea. If you want to draw out the scent and aroma of the tea, you must use well water, which comes from the mountain. When you want to bring out stronger aroma in teas, you use higher water temperatures, and when you want to extract a sweeter and richer scent, try using low temperature water.
For green tea addicts, at first, green tea tastes acrid, but it becomes sweet after drawing. It is wonderful for many people to drink together, and those who don’t have breakfast can drink 3-4 cups of green tea, then work as usual. Those who have a backache because of working too hard will feel stronger after making this tea with honey.
Green tea is not only a familiar and healthy beverage, but it also has become part of the culture in the daily lives of the people here. Farmers take time to enjoy a cup of green tea. Many families cook a pot of green tea to invite other people to enjoy and palaver together. It is not an overstatement to say that drinking green tea has become a fine custom. National traditions as well as good neighbourhoods originate from such simple acts in daily lives.
When seeing green hills of tea trees, I think that the green tea adds spice, aroma and quintessence to life. At the same time, it also contributes to feeding the people here. Therefore, it is time that this green tea got its own name and a foothold in the market.n

Text by Le Van; Photos by Sach Nguyen Photography
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