Food and Drink
The Vietnamese are in love with this thing called tea. They drink it everywhere and at any time: at formal meetings, after meals, at weddings and funerals. They place it on altars as an offering to their ancestors. But tea drinking is not a recent trend in Viet Nam. It has an ancient history, though it remains as important to the Vietnamese today as it was in the past.
Viet Nam is one of the largest and oldest tea-producing countries in the world. A biochemical survey conducted by Russian Professor Daemygzagza in 1 979 indicates that the tea trees found along Viet Nam's northern border with China contain the oldest genetic structure known to exist. This is an indication that the inhabitants of what is today Viet Nam may have been the first to taste one of the world's most popular beverages.
While tea has a special philosophical value for scholars and a long tradition in Vietnamese history, it has its own place today in the lives of ordinary people living in cities and in the countryside alike. Ordinary people cannot afford to buy expensive tea, so they grow their own. Tea is used to bind people together; in the countryside, the peasant often invites his neighbor round for a chat over a cup of tea.
Drinking tea is considered a means to improve one's character, and to help polish one's manners. Indeed, a person's character can be assessed by his or her tea drinking habits. Vietnamese consider those who drink concentrated tea to be finely-mannered. Those who can pour tea into bowls arranged in a circle using a coconut scoop without spilling a drop will certainly enjoy the admiration of their tea-drinking peers.