Green tea, on the other hand, is hugely popular, and the majority of Vietnamese drink several cups everyday.
Taste a good Vietnamese green tea, and you will immediately taste the difference between it and a green tea from anywhere else.
“The Vietnamese tea culture is different in that we prefer very strong tea, with a strong liquor taste,” according to Doan Anh Tuan, managing director of Future Generation, independent tea producers.
“If you drink Vietnamese tea, you will get a sense of Vietnam,” says Nguyen Thi Anh Hong, director of the Vietnam Tea Association (VITAS).
“It’s a bit bitter at first, but after a few moments it mellows in your throat… something like our Vietnamese history,” she adds, with a twinkle in her eye.
In fact, the Vietnamese have a green tea tradition with its own social and cultural ceremonies that developed over thousands of years independent of its Chinese neighbors.
“It’s a part of the culture; we drink tea in the morning when we wake up with our family, again when we arrive at the workplace with our co-workers, with our lunch, whenever we entertain someone, and when we get home to our family again,” says Hong.
Vietnam is changing, and western influences are certainly noticeable, especially amongst the young. Coffee shops are sprouting up everywhere.
“Many Vietnamese may drink coffee sometimes, they may drink a black tea, now and again, but they drink green tea every day, usually several times,” says Tuan of Future Generation, an independent tea exporter.
“You don’t have to go far to get a cup of tea in Vietnam, you can get a cup of good, hot tea on any street corner. And in the coffee shops too,” he adds.