exploring tea in Vietnam

About three years ago I visited Hanoi and posted here about exploring tea there.  I've been trying some different Vietnamese teas since (quite a few, over all that time), so I wanted to mention a few here.

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co … sheng.html

This tea was a version of sheng pu'er, which I'm mentioning first since I just reviewed it.  It's difficult to summarize what sheng really is, for someone who's never tried it.  It's typically a compressed tea from Yunnan, China, that can ferment over time and change character.  Shou pu'er is a pre-fermented version, one that is wet-piled instead of darkening and changing flavors with aging.  This Vietnamese version was nice.  Sheng is typically a little bitter so it's more an acquired taste, but once you get into teas with that unique balance of aspects and complexity it's different than anything else.


http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co … om-ha.html

This was an Oriental Beauty version from the North of Vietnam that an online tea friend in Ho Chi Minh City shared with me in an exchange (so I don't know the exact source, who made it).  It's typical of how style imports tend to go, a really interesting version of an OB (twisted, highly oxidized, sweet and fruity oolong style from Taiwan), but not really typical of the original version.  I've reviewed a version from Yunnan (China) that was quite similar to this one.


http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co … eauty.html

Hatvala's Oriental Beauty version is so good I should probably stop talking about it.  It's not only type-typical related to Taiwanese versions (light, sweet, subtle, complex, fruity, etc.) it's a much better version than you tend to find there.  I'm not saying it's better than Taiwanese versions get, because it's definitely not, I'm saying it's better than the ones you almost ever find.  Their light rolled oolong versions tend to be pretty good too, but maybe just above average for Taiwanese versions, not quite this far up.  Their jasmine black tea is also fantastic, and I don't even like flavored teas (maybe an Earl Grey once in awhile, that's about it).


http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co … vince.html

This is a type unique to Vietnam, snow tea, which is more or less a variation of green tea that shares some aspects in common with sheng pu'er.  Fish-hook style green tea, with best known versions coming out of Thai Nguyen, are the most typical of Vietnamese teas, but this one is also distinctive, and maybe a little more unique.  Since I love soft, sweet black teas and oolong range the best and green teas the least it's not a great style fit for me but still something unique.  I should probably mention a black tea, just to point out how that range can go, maybe again from exchange from that friend (without an origin identified) so this doesn't lean into being marketing related.


http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co … riend.html

Vietnamese black teas also come in a range of different styles, it's just hard pinning down a clear type related to those, and sourcing of the best versions is probably trickier than finding pretty good green tea and rolled oolong.  This tea reminded me a lot of Chinese black teas, which is how that can go, and is generally a good thing.  Without much for origin on this tea it really doesn't work as a lead for tracking it down, more just to point out that lots of interesting teas are out there.


I hope this helps, that it doesn't come off too much a blog promotion.  It is that, in a form, but I mean to indicate that people in Vietnam have a great option to get out and track down some interesting teas.  For others outside Vietnam too, but that gets harder.  The Hatvala range is nice but it only represents part of what's being made and sold inside Vietnam.

I quite like Earl Grey tea with my breakfast

Earl Grey can be nice. Teas that have a natural citrus aspect can be great too, often more subtle and balanced than by adding bergamot oil.  That can happen with Oriental Beauty, or second flush Darjeeling, and an Assam oolong I tried was nice for that type of aspect.  Indian versions of oolong never seem anything like Chinese or Taiwanese oolongs but they can nice in a different way.

I also like the green tea from my wife’s family farm. Having made and drunk a pot of it I save the tea leaves for 24 hours and brew them up again. Surprisingly nice.

People tend to brew green tea using boiling water in Vietnam, per my limited experience, but dropping temperature back softens the results a lot.  And it still has plenty of flavor using limited infusion time, for a standard proportion, so it can be brewed a few times. It's just a matter of preference but conventional in Western tea circles to like it made that way. 

It's accepted in China and in other tea culture that saving brewed leaves is fine, as you mentioned, but I tend to brew tea out the first day or use cold brewing to get one more round. You just put the leaves in lukewarm water in any container that can seal in the refrigerator, and drink it hours later or the next day.

bkk tea blog :

People tend to brew green tea using boiling water in Vietnam, per my limited experience, but dropping temperature back softens the results a lot.

I cannot live without my variable temperature kettle because a few degrees on either side can truly change the taste, and most of the time not for the better.  I don't allow water to reach higher than 79° or 80° for green tea.

bkk tea blog :

People tend to brew green tea using boiling water in Vietnam, per my limited experience, but dropping temperature back softens the results a lot.  And it still has plenty of flavor using limited infusion time, for a standard proportion, so it can be brewed a few times. It's just a matter of preference but conventional in Western tea circles to like it made that way. 

It's accepted in China and in other tea culture that saving brewed leaves is fine, as you mentioned, but I tend to brew tea out the first day or use cold brewing to get one more round. You just put the leaves in lukewarm water in any container that can seal in the refrigerator, and drink it hours later or the next day.

I also drink tea made from bitter gourd leaves as well as tea made from sweet potato tops. The bitter gourd tea is an acquired taste though

You might like sheng.  Tisanes (herb teas) tend to be less complex than tea (the other kinds) but the possible flavors range is very broad.  I would expect lots of versions are very healthy,  it's just all but impossible to learn specifics about that,  what is good for what, or how to best balance them.

I've also made some very nice wines from e.g. strawberry tea, peach tea and raspberry tea. And some very good bia gung (ginger beer), but that's going off topic. They do quite a nice artichoke tea in Dalat too.

Besides the tea, do you promote for Vietnamese Coffee?

hongminh1905 :

Besides the tea, do you promote for Vietnamese Coffee?

I do. My wife’s family grows superb beans - coffee beans that is.

Well heard. Does your wife family live in Dalat, Eodmatt? Which area (Cau Dat, Lac Duong...). Do they have coffee shop or only sell the Green Bean or Cherry?

hongminh1905 :

Well heard. Does your wife family live in Dalat, Eodmatt? Which area (Cau Dat, Lac Duong...). Do they have coffee shop or only sell the Green Bean or Cherry?

They live in Bao Loc and grow coffee, dry and roast it, making special roasts which they sell wholesale. They don’t have a coffee shop.

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