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A cup of serenity

No 3, Vol.12, November - December 2015


Every year, when summer begins to cast its golden sun rays over the lush green of vegetation, West Lake lotuses again show their pure beauty to the people of Hanoi to signal the time for delicate indulgence in lotus-scented tea. It’s believed that the West Lake lotuses originated from a lotus strand in Tri swamp near the West Lake prefect called ‘hundred petal lotus’, which boasts large flowers with a far-spreading aroma.

In ancient times, Quang Ba, Tay Ho and Nghi Tam villagers used to make lotus-scented tea to pay tribute to the king and nobility. Today, it is used to treat dear guests and is given as a gift.

Hanoians used to follow a simple trick to make the tea. At night, when the flowers began to open slightly, they put a thimbleful of tea into them and tied up the tip of the flower. Early in the morning, they took the flower home to make tea.

The technique has improved a lot since then. Today, tea-makers scent the tea with lotus stamens, which are white and are shaped like a grain of rice. Layers of tea and lotus stamen are put on one another and then wrapped in waterproof paper, which also traps the aroma. After 3 days, the bundle is opened and dried, another layer of stamen is added and the lot is wrapped again. The process repeats 7 times, and after 21 days, the tea is perfectly scented.

The Hanoi way of tea making and drinking is like nowhere else. To Hanoians, it is a culture in its own right. It takes meticulousness and sophistication to feel the depth of delicateness and meaning of a cup of tea. So, every lotus blooming season, Hanoians have a chance to sit amidst a lotus pond to enjoy the beauty around them with a tea cup in their hand, to ponder and have a leisurely conversation about the world and extract the calming and soothing elixir from life, free from worries and burdens.n

Text by Ngan Ha and photos by Tat Son
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