Monday, 23 September 2013

Tea in Viet Nam

I would like to welcome the first readers from Japan, Colombia, Spain and Lithuania to Singing Bird  

Tea in Vietnam

Fortune Cookie:


The light is everyone. It is existent in all. As if the whole earth is a single mass of fire.

After producing mostly low-grade teas for many years, some producers are now making quality teas.

There are competing views about the quality and strength of teas from Vietnam. The green tea with lotus flowers (tra sen) tea I have been drinking for the last few weeks is really quite beautiful. It is fragrant and if held up to the light (I drink from a glass) is the most gorgeous light golden colour. Add in the fragrance of the lotus. Light. Extremely good for the body. In short a beautiful tea.

Types of Vietnamese Tea

Tra Sen – green lotus tea

Bac Thai – lemony yellow green tea

Trà Lài – Jasmine tea

Trà Mạn – plain black tea

Shan Tuyet teas from are harvested from very old trees. More about this black tea in a future post.

Preparing lotus tea for flavouring

Vietnamese tea culture.

Che Tuoi – Fresh Tea
This tea is traditionally made by plucking fresh leaves from a tea tree and putting them in a terracotta bowl with hot water. This is how the first tea was drunk.

Viet tea ceremony

Tea terrace in North Vietnam

A sip of the Lotus tea is genuinely life-affirming.

Tra Sen Lotus Tea

If you like travel see Singing Bird's sister site GuerillaZ below.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Nice Cup of English Tea

A warm welcome to the first Swiss, Finnish and Jersey readers of Singing Bird Tea

Let's have a cup of tea: real tea drinking in England

Fortune Cookie: wisdom for cooling the flames


Whenever anger comes up, take out a mirror and look at yourself.

When you are angry, you are not very beautiful.

In the UK we drink twice as much tea as coffee. It is no longer the exotic habit of 300 years ago nor the high class one of 150 years ago. Tea is for everyone. Only a tiny minority of 3% drink tea without milk.
In England tea comes in a pot or a mug and sometimes a china cup. Drinking tea that isn't black is often treated with suspicion by mainstream consumers of tea. The sign of someone you will struggle to understand. Despite the exhausting range of teas available few stray away from teabags filled with blended tea dust.
Assam, English Breakfast and Darjeeling are teas we turn to if teabags just aren't enough. Darjeeling first flushes can be very expensive as I found whilst visiting the hillstation in March. A tiny quantity, 25 grams, cost $10 and that wasn't even a first flush. It is subtle tea but no one uses milk in that region, foothills of the Himalayas. No real grazing land for milk cattle at that altitude.

Gold label tea was light and subtle for breakfast. Most of the tea we drank came from India. The jewel in our colonial crown. Britain colonised Dorje-Ling (Darjeeling) way back in 1828.

One of the Darjeeling Tea estates

A simple mug of tea.

 Tea can be used to generate acts of kindness.

See the London art installation below:

When an event of even the mildest magnitude arises it is customary to have a cup of tea to soften its impact.

Although we drink almost exclusively black teas with milk ...

England does offer some nice other teas and they need to be good to stand up to the milk we drop into them. A favourite is Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey has a distinctive flavour and aroma derived from the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus fruit that grows in the winter in southern Italy. There is also a drink called 'The London Fog' which is Earl Grey tea with steamed milk and vanilla syrup. That's very rich and moreish. Great before and after exercise I think. 

Earl Grey Blue Lady with cornflowers and vanilla

There are also a few new English Teas to try.

Cornish Manuka Tea
Tregothnan Earl Grey
Olive Leaf Tea

Important English Phrases related to tea

                                         Builders - basic black tea (for builders)
                                         Char       - one of several a names for tea in England
                                         Cuppa     - one cup of tea

An English Builder

An English Tea Rooms

Some would say such tea rooms give tea a bad name.

Rock n roll rebels are not usually found in such rooms.

See the following film extract to understand the point of view some hold in England. Set in an English Tea Room

From the film Withnail and I

This is not meant to represent all old people.

Let England Shake! by PJ Harvey‎