Saigon / HCM Vietnam


Culture, language, tangibles, intangibles from countries known for tea

Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Feb 26th, '14, 13:27

Will be in Saigon in April and would like to pick up some good Vietnamese tea; I hear the green is considered the best and they even produce some oolong for export to Taiwan. I found a place called Royal Tea House online, but I was wondering if anyone had any personal experience with buying tea in Saigon. I'll definitely keep my eyes open on the ground and do more research, but if someone's actually been there and done what I want to do, I would love some suggestions. :)
User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Feb 26th, '14, 13:32

User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Feb 26th, '14, 13:56

This place is fancy...and expensive:

http://www.traviet.com/
User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby eyvind » Feb 27th, '14, 14:49

I think south Vietnam is more of coffee country due to the French influence. One of the most interesting uses of tea I found there was actually in coffee. The cafes serve cà phê sữa đá (sweet iced strong milk coffee) with a pot of low quality black or oolong tea. In the bottom of a cup there is a shot of sweet condensed milk, then the Vietnamese espresso maker is put on top of the cup and allowed to drip for about 5 minutes. (I think this is supposed to be just enough time to smoke a cigarette and buy a lotto ticket :wink: ) This makes a very strong brew a bit like espresso. You are also given a second cup full of ice. So you put in your desired amount of ice and add the tea to add volume and dilute the coffee.

My in-laws are from south Vietnam and are all coffee drinkers. Some do drink tea but are far from connoisseurs. My father in-law believe all tea should be boiled. He said he used to grow tea there and would drop fresh leaves into boiling water to make tea. I gave him some green jasmine pearls with he would drop into milk and microwave :shock: . As along as he enjoys it...

Also the main tea growing areas are in the north- Thái Nguyên near Hanoi. They grow greens and make scented greens. This is probably closer to HK than HCMC.

Also Lâm Đồng in the central highlands north produces tea. I heard that Taiwanese were involved in starting oolong productiion there.
User avatar
eyvind
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Jul 10th, '
Location: San Diego County, California

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Feb 28th, '14, 01:12

From what I've read traditional tea culture has always been something for the educated and elite--it is making a comeback in Hanoi and HCM and that's the kind of tea (and teaware) I'm after.

I always thought the tea served with cà phê sữa đá was meant to be drank on the side as a refresher, rather than for diluting the coffee?

I've also read that the majority of Vietnamese drinkers like boiled, strong tea (blech). There's a thread on here from a young lady with a Vietnamese boyfriend who drank his tea that way.

I'm after the good stuff and I already have some solid leads on where to find it in Sai Gon--there are even Yixing-style pots made in VN!

HK and China are much the same as far as modern tea culture...most people aren't after the good stuff and just drink big ol' pots or cups of low-grade to ok tea, often without any kind of rinse.

http://vietnam.vnanet.vn/vnp/en-us/13/3 ... apots.html

BTW, I see you're from SD. I have two good Vietnamese-American friends who live down there; I wonder if you know them? I'll PM you.
User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby rdl » Apr 3rd, '14, 01:38

jayinhk wrote:Will be in Saigon in April and would like to pick up some good Vietnamese tea

If it's not too late, I suggest trying Tra Bac Thanh. I will be curious to read your posts on what you find.
Have a great trip!
User avatar
rdl
 
Posts: 308
Joined: Feb 24th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Apr 3rd, '14, 02:39

rdl,

Still two weeks to go. What's tra bac thanh?
User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby rdl » Apr 3rd, '14, 17:04

jayinhk wrote:rdl,
Still two weeks to go. What's tra bac thanh?

(Tra = southern word for tea) Bac Thanh is, I feel, more complex than the popular Thai Nguyen, which is very good, especially the higher grades. I am sure of the name Bac Thanh but it was a decade ago that I was given it as a gift in the north, and I was unaware of it previously. My guess is that it is less popular in the south. If you can find it it is worth trying.
User avatar
rdl
 
Posts: 308
Joined: Feb 24th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Apr 4th, '14, 02:15

Yup I figured out the 'tra' part ('cha' in Chinese). :) I'll keep an eye out for it, although I think I have some good leads for the really good stuff already.
User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby rdl » Apr 5th, '14, 23:16

jayinhk wrote:Yup I figured out the 'tra' part ('cha' in Chinese). :)

I put that in parentheses meaning "as you know..." but thought others may not. :D In the north, it's che.
I will be very curious about the tea you will have. I wonder if it is Vietnamese production for the Vietnamese market or Taiwanese, Japanese, who have come to produce tea in Vietnam? If the tea is local to the area or imported stock to be grown in favorable conditions. I have read of both happening but with all the foreign investment in the country I am curious how indigenous it is now. Both tea growing and tea drinking.
Thanks in advance for sharing.
User avatar
rdl
 
Posts: 308
Joined: Feb 24th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Apr 6th, '14, 01:48

It appears there has been a resurgence in tea culture in VN, and there is some very expensive tea being sold too. I'll definitely take pics and post about my teaventures when I get back!
User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Apr 23rd, '14, 05:43

Didn't visit any of the fancier tea stores or teahouses in Sg while I was there, but I did drink iced green tea every day (with and without coffee). I also brought back about a kilo of tea; green, lily scented, and oolong, along with artichoke. Drinking some of the lily-scented tea now and it's so good. Much better than jasmine IMO. I really enjoyed my time in Saigon--perhaps my favorite city in Southeast Asia now!
User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby rdl » Apr 24th, '14, 00:21

jayinhk wrote:Didn't visit any of the fancier tea stores or teahouses in Sg while I was there, but I did drink iced green tea every day (with and without coffee). I also brought back about a kilo of tea; green, lily scented, and oolong, along with artichoke. Drinking some of the lily-scented tea now and it's so good. Much better than jasmine IMO. I really enjoyed my time in Saigon--perhaps my favorite city in Southeast Asia now!

jayinhk,
can you provide any further details? what kind of green and oolong did you purchase? where did you end up going to drink/buy tea? whatever you feel to share i'd enjoy reading. did you drink an artichoke smoothie?
funny, when i had jasmine tea in taiwan i felt how you felt about tra sen (lily) - i imagine it being similar; fresh and delicate floral taste, especially in nice a hot climate.
User avatar
rdl
 
Posts: 308
Joined: Feb 24th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby jayinhk » Apr 24th, '14, 02:06

I'll provide more details later, but I bought tea at:

1. The new Cho Lon market--everything I bought there was purchased in Cantonese, which the market folks LOVED, especially since I am NOT Chinese. lol. It got me a ton of attention and friendly pats on the back from the local Chinese. I could also ask them for directions and get answers I could understand. We still sweated out butts off in Cho Lon...it was 35 Celsius / 95 F and the sunshine was really intense.

My friend, who went with me, looks Chinese/Vietnamese, but is actually Javanese. Everyone kept trying to talk to her in Chinese and Vietnamese, and she had to apologize in English, which made the locals laugh. It started bothering her--then someone spoke to her in Tagalog at Saigon Airport when she was flying out :lol:

Similarly a couple of people I thought were local Saigonites turned out to be American as apple pie!

2. The Ben Thanh market...lots of tea and coffee for sale. Prices are probably higher for tourists, but maybe not. They do have all the tea and coffee you could want, but not the really good stuff. I bought both since I drink both. I also bought three ca phe phim (coffee filters) of varying quality--one in a public market on Cong Quynh, one in Ben Thanh and a higher quality one at Co-Op Mart (see #3).

3. A large supermarket on Cong Quynh in District 1 called Co-Op--just to compare the quality of their tea and coffee offerings. the Lily tea I'm drinking now is from the supermarket and is actually very pleasant to drink indeed. The good stuff is 20x the price of the stuff I bought, however. I really want to try some!

Vietnamese tea is seriously underrated, IMO, and I hope it stays that way! I've only tried the lily so far, but will try something else shortly. The coffee is excellent too IMO, and extremely good value. I have enough tea and coffee for a year, easy! I bought beans, but it's trickier to find whole beans than pre-ground, but even the pre-ground stuff is very flavorful when brewed Viet style. I would say the Vietnamese have their coffee blending down pat.

As for the iced green tea, it is served everywhere, and is extremely cheap. Nobody dilutes their coffee with it though--it is sipped on the side to cool you down and cleanse your palate, and to cut through the taste of the coffee and condensed milk, which is too intense for some. Some people just drink the tea by itself though. I had two glasses with a 333 beer and my lunch a few days ago!

The most famous commercial label for tea and coffee in Saigon is Trung Nguyen (pronounced Chung Wing). I have to say their products are consistently good. Not connoisseur grade, but definitely very drinkable.

I hope to visit VN again later this year or next year; now that I understand the country a little better, I'm ready to hunt down some serious tea. :)

I didn't try an artichoke shake--I did, however, try all the beer I could find, from Bia Hoi on up!
Last edited by jayinhk on Apr 24th, '14, 02:21, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
jayinhk
 
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 28th, '

Re: Saigon / HCM Vietnam

Postby debunix » Apr 24th, '14, 02:18

Now I'm very curious about Vietnamese lily tea, and wondering if I might find some in a local ethnic market...hmmm.....I've got a pockets of Korean, Thai, and Japanese markets nearby, and there must be Vietnamese not that far away....
User avatar
debunix
 
Posts: 4945
Joined: Jan 10th, '
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Next

Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation