Hue’s lotus tea, the fine art in the tea culture
Lotus-scented tea is a unique feature of Vietnamese tea culture. Known for the sophisticated making process, exquisite fragrance and delicate taste, lotus tea was, in the past, hailed as “Tea for the King" and is now an addictive drink of many Vietnamese.
|Lotus tea is hailed as “Tea for the King"(Photo: PasGo)|
In the past, lotus tea was only served to the Kings in Hue. During Nguyen Dynasty, tea scented by lotus flowers grown in Tinh Tam Lake was said to have more aromatic than from elsewhere. Imperial maids used to row to Tinh Tam Lake to place tea leaves inside the flowers opened at midnight then harvested in early morning and collect dewdrops from lotus leaves to brew the tea, Vietnam tea reported.
Lotus is the symbol of purity and integrity in Vietnam. Lotus flowers have long been in Vietnamese people’s hearts, life and culture. Contemplating lotus flowers, we can see images of Vietnamese people.
The lotus flowers have long been associated with Hue, ingrained in Hue locals’ hearts, and can be easily found in the city’s ancient architectures, cuisine and culture. Thus, you can catch sight of lotus every step you take, from lotuses in lakes and ponds to the Hue royal palace. The flowers’ fragrance is not any less alluring, deserves it the title national flower of Vietnam, according to VNE.
Besides the gorgeous beauty, the iconic flowers bring to the ancient capital, lotus also makes lotus tea – one of the most elegant specialty in Vietnam which is a fine art in the making itself.
Lotus grow in all of the country’s rural areas but Hue and Hanoi are well known for the most precious lotus to make lotus tea.
To make a fragrant, tasteful batch of lotus tea, one must get up bright and early enough to pick the nearly blossomed lotuses. The lotuses then taken home, soaked in water so that they can stay as fresh as possible, according to Kham Pha Hue.
|Lotus buds, ready to be embalmed with green tea (Photo: Tra sen.vn)|
Green tea, often of the best quality, is then put inside lotus buds. This step might look simple, but the tricky part is, it requires great care and meticulousness as the petals could easily rip apart, according to VNE.
Once done, the buds are tied up, wrapped inside a layer of lotus leaves and left overnight and can be served right in the following morning. However, the lotus tea should be kept in the fridge for at least two months as the longer it stays in low temperature, the more flavorful and fragrant it will be, Kham Pha Hue suggested.
|(Photo: Dan Tri)|
|A layer of lotus leaves is wrapped outside (Photo: VNE)|
|And left overnight (Photo: VNE)|
In the past, people would even drove their boat out to the ponds and put green tea directly into the newly-picked lotus buds without soaking the lotus in the water, then tie up and wrap the tea buds right in the middle of the pond and leave it overnight so that the tea could absorb the essence of the bud.
Besides, lotus tea can also be embalmed the “rice” way. This technique is quite different from the first one, with small white seeds from the lotus bud, which look pretty much like rice, are taken out of the bud. This step must be done quickly so that the white seeds could retain its color, fragrance.
|White seeds are taken out of the buds (Photo: VNE)|
|Then mixed with green tea (Photo: VNE)|
Those white seeds will later get embalmed with green tea, wrapped inside lotus leaves for one or two days. The tea is then dried over charcoal or in a bain-marie to keep the scent of the lotus.
The seeds of 2,000 buds can make one kilogram of lotus tea, according to VNE.
“The art of embalming tea in lotus requires great concentration and dexterity,” Nguyen Phong, a Hue local photographer who owns a series titled ‘Hue’s lotus tea’ claims.