In Hue of central Vietnam, people often choose lotuses that have nearly blossomed to make the lotus tea because they retain all the essence in the bud.
The art of embalming lotus tea in Hue requires concentration and dexterity:
Ancient town Hue is renowned for a most elegant specialty, the art of making lotus tea.
Lotus is an essential part of daily life in Hue, ubiquitous in its landscapes, architecture, culture, and cuisine.
The photo was taken by Nguyen Phong, a Hue local. It is one of a series titled ‘Hue’s lotus tea’.
In Hue, the former imperial capital in central Vietnam, people often choose lotuses that have nearly blossomed to make the tea because they retain all the essence in the bud.
In the past people used an old-fashioned way to make the tea. They used to go to ponds and put green tea directly into the lotus, tie it up and leave it overnight for the tea to absorb the essence of the bud. These days people pick the lotus first and do it later.
Green tea is put into lotuses. The best quality tea is chosen for this.
The process of bagging the lotus with the tea inside might seem simple, but it requires great care because the petals easily rip apart.
The lotus bud is tied up and wrapped inside a layer of lotus leaves.
The bags of lotus tea are left overnight and can be used right in the morning. But it is recommended that the tea bags should be in the fridge for as long as possible, and the longer they stay in, the better they taste.
Another way to embalm the tea is the “rice” way. Small white seeds that look just like rice are taken out of the lotus bud.
The seeds of 2,000 buds can make one kilogram of lotus tea.
After being taken out, the seeds are mixed with green tea, wrapped inside lotus leaves and left for one to two days. Then the tea is dried on charcoal or in a bain-marie, a process that ensures it does not lose the scent of the lotus.
“The art of embalming tea in lotus requires great concentration and dexterity,” Phong said.
A Hue woman in the traditional dress ao dai enjoys a cup of lotus tea.
In Vietnam, the lotus is a symbol of purity and integrity.