Tea is a huge part of my life and I am always looking to learn more about it. On my recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a Vietnamese tea tasting at Hatvala, a local tea house that sources and supplies premium quality teas (and coffee) from Vietnam.
With a strong tradition and culture in coffee, we typically tend not to associate Vietnam so much with tea. I was actually surprised to learn that the country not only produces a lot of it, but that a lot of it gets sold as Chinese tea. The neighboring China often buys it not fully processed or blended, adds the final touches, and then sells it on as Chinese. For all you know, the Chinese tea you are drinking right now could actually be grown in Vietnam!
Geographically it makes sense that there would be tea growing in Vietnam, seeing the location of its Northern parts in close proximity to the likely origins of the camellia sinensis plant in the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. In fact, the Northern Vietnamese tea regions have some of the oldest trees anywhere. I was also pleased to find out that while Vietnam (like its neighboring China) lacks a credible and regulated organic certification system, the highlands of Northern Vietnam actually produce some of the cleanest tea, free of harmful pesticides, using only traditional methods.
In the tea tasting I was able to sample premium quality white, green, oolong and black teas which were all exquisite. As a green and white tea enthusiast I enjoyed those ones more, and obviously also bought some to take home. The tea studio at Hatvala is a beautifully zen environment for this kind of experience and our host Thu Ngoc was so knowledgeable I could have listened to her talk about tea for much longer than the two hours I was there.
This tea tasting was actually my first airbnb “experience”. I have used airbnb for years to find local accommodations during my travels and recently they have added a new category you can book: experiences with local hosts and experts. I absolutely love it and will be a regular to take advantage of these opportunities. New to airbnb? Join here to get a $30 travel credit. Going to Ho Chi Minh City and interested in this tea tasting experience? Find it here.
All images © Pauliina Parris. // All rights reserved.