Spirit of the Lotus

by TeaLady on February 6, 2012

Lotus flowers on pond

Several years ago, during Asian Heritage Month, I attended a workshop on the Vietnamese Lotus Tea Ceremony. We learned how to make Vietnamese sweets, and then Rebecca Craig from Camellia Teas presented a wonderful slide show and story about the Lotus tea ceremony from Viet Nam.

Because it was a while ago my memory for detail may be somewhat lacking, but I will never forget how entranced I was and I regret not recording it sooner. The story goes, that during the Imperial era, in the 17th century or before even, the lotus tea was only for royalty. And it was a revered ceremony for only the very important people. Only special utensils were used and they were only “bathed” in lotus water before use, as well.

What made the tea so divine, precious and enchanting was the method in which it was collected. Only the best tea leaves were used and those leaves were taken by the young girls in rafts silently gliding through the reeded waters at dusk. Those leaves were reverently, precisely and gently placed into the centre of the blooming lotus flowers to sleep there when the petals of the lotus folded themselves and closed for the night. At dawn, the flowers began to open to the sunshine and the maidens ventured again in their silent boats to recollect those tea leaves which had been infused with the scent and flavour of the lotus. These girls also were tasked with the job of collecting the dew from the petals which they were to drop in dedicated jugs and returning them to the palace. The dew was actually what was used to bathe the tea utensils. Then the lotus tea was reverently prepared according to very strict and deliberate procedure of the day for tea ceremony.

During this workshop, we had the pleasure of tasting some modern lotus tea which had been brought by someone who recently visited Viet Nam. I was positively enamoured and enchanted so from that day forward I vowed to make a lotus tea blend. Eventually I did, but a consistent source of lovely lotus petals still eludes me. Once in a while I find some, or find an importer who has some. Then, and only if they are fairly fresh, I make a batch. Very special Indeed.

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