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witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi

Witness the Intricate Process of Making Lotus Tea by the People of Hanoi

By: Nam Nguyen

Amidst the sweltering heat of June, the capital city still harbors a small, poetic, and serene corner. Here, the people of Hanoi seem to momentarily forget their daily hustle and bustle, waking up early to admire the budding pink lotus flowers, immerse themselves in the fragrant scent of West Lake lotuses, and leisurely sip on delicately scented lotus tea.

Mentioning lotus tea evokes a sense of pride and highlights a distinctive feature in the tea-drinking culture of Hanoi. When the pink lotus buds bloom, it marks the start of the season for those who engage in scenting tea with lotus flowers. For the locals, making tea is not merely about economic gain; they aim to preserve a traditional craft, a refined cultural beauty of Hanoi.

witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
To produce one kilogram of high-quality Lotus Momo Botan lotus-scented tea, the artisans must harvest the flowers early in the morning
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
From late May, lotus flowers begin to bloom, but the peak season for harvesting, when most flowers are collected, is between mid-June and early July
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
The lotus primarily used for scenting tea is the Lotos Momo Botan lotus, a special variety renowned for producing what is known as the premier tea of Hanoi
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Ms. Nguyen Thi Tam, 96 years old, residing in Tay Ho district, shares that her family has had a longstanding tradition of lotus tea scenting. To this day, she remains dedicated to this craft, guiding the younger generations in continuing the family’s traditional profession
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
To produce one kilogram of lotus tea, 1,000-1,200 lotus flowers are needed. Every step of the lotus tea scenting process is entirely manual. The processing stages are carried out meticulously and delicately, especially since they are done entirely by hand. Ms. Nguyen Thi Tam shares: “To achieve this special tea, it requires going through 7 rounds of scenting and drying with lotus rice. Layer by layer of tea and then a thin layer of lotus rice.”
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Due to her passion for the craft, every batch of Lotos Momo Botan lotus-scented tea, skillfully crafted by Ms. Nguyen Thi Tam, has been sent as far as the United States, England, and Japan by her family
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Lotus tea is divided into two types: traditional lotus tea and scented lotus tea.
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Lotus tea scented with lotus rice, also known as lotus star tea, is distinct from scented lotus tea because it uses lotus rice—the part that retains the strongest fragrance of the lotus flower—to scent the tea. This method ensures that the tea maintains the aroma of lotus without mixing with the flavor of the lotus petals
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Firstly, it’s necessary to carefully separate the lotus rice from each lotus flower, sieving and selecting only the lotus rice. Extracting lotus rice is a delicate process; the artisan must handle it gently and skillfully to ensure the rice remains intact without breaking or losing its aromatic fragrance.
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Afterward, a layer of lotus leaves is placed in a basket or tray, followed by alternating layers of lotus rice underneath and tea leaves on top. This process continues layer by layer until all the lotus rice is used
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Finally, a layer of lotus leaves is placed on top. The basket of lotus rice tea needs to be scented for approximately 18-24 hours, depending on the moisture content of the lotus rice
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Making scented lotus tea is quite straightforward. Lotus flowers, freshly harvested from the pond or purchased early in the morning, are immediately used to scent the tea to capture the fullest essence of the lotus fragrance.
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Firstly, the tea artisan gently unfolds the petals of the lotus flower to reveal the stamen inside, then places the tea inside. The amount of tea used should be just right (10-15 grams per flower) to achieve a balance between fragrance and flavor.
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
The type of tea scented within lotus flowers is priced at 30,000 – 50,000 Vietnamese Dong per flower. This is considered one of the most expensive and prestigious teas, typically reserved for the wealthy
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
After the flowers have been scented with lotus, they are placed in vases or bowls of water overnight. The next day, when the lotus fragrance has permeated the tea, it can be enjoyed. The remaining scented lotus flowers, can be preserved by placing them in vacuum-sealed bags and storing them in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator to be used gradually
witness-the-intricate-process-of-making-lotus-tea-by-the-people-of-hanoi
Due to its intricate and refined processing stages, lotus tea from West Lake has surpassed the standards of ordinary scented teas

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