Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lotus Tea

When you are in Hanoi or Saigon it's easy to forget how most of Vietnam is rural. Driving through the countryside you see beautiful landscapes, mountains, rice paddies, and gardens everywhere. Banana trees are heavy with fruit and tea grows on manicured terraces.

In addition to rice and coffee, tea is also grown for export. While Lipton tea is popular here as it is in neighboring Thailand, the two main types of green tea, jasmine and lotus are more prevalent.They are also served at just about every meal.

Lotus tea is green tea flavored with lotus. It is pale green and has a delicate perfume, distinct from other teas and very pleasant. I could drink it every day.

When I purchased some boxes made from cassia (cinnamon) in the city of Hoi An the vendor pressed a packet of lotus tea in my hand. I'm sure she had no idea how precious it would be to me...another flavor of Vietnam.