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
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!