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A heady fragrance brews as lotuses bloom in Hanoi

Connoisseurs insist that the best lotus tea needs flowers from the West Lake area. For many years, lotuses have been grown in different Hanoi neighborhoods for use as decoration, offering to the Buddha and making the famous lotus tea. The West Lake lotus (Bach Diep) variety is the most renowned of them all with its large aromatic blossoms. 

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Nguyen The San’s family in Bac Tu Liem District grows lotus on 6,000 square meters of water surface. “Lotus grows naturally, and can be harvested from May 19 until early September every year”, San said.

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When the flowers are in season, San wakes up at 4 a.m and navigates his boat through the forest of blossoms to harvest them, but he cannot meet the high demand from customers who gather at the lake's banks to buy them.

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Harvesting the flowers early in the morning, even before they spread their petals, is best, so that the fragrance remains for a long time.

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A full blown West Lake lotus.

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"The making of lotus tea is not complicated. The main task is to select the right kind of lotus,” said Hanh, a lotus farmer. The right lotus must be from the West Lake, with spherical, chubby shape. Each person can harvest more than 400 blossoms daily. The tea leaves should be from Thai Nguyen Province. This combination of dried tea leaves costs around VND500,000 ($22) per kilogram.

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"Usually, around 13 grams of dried tea leaves are placed inside a flower that has just bloomed. The tea leaves will absorb the lotus scent. Each lotus has its stalk covered in water for a day, so that the absorbed water stimulates the fragrance to penetrate inside,” said Le Ngoc Yen, an experienced tea brewer.

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Each wrapped tea blossom is sold for VND30,000 ($1.31). For preservation, each blossom is vacuum packed and refrigerated, and the tea leaves can then be used for six months.

Source: VnExpress

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