Day 2: Opening Ceremonies
by Cynthia Fazekas
Day two begins with opening ceremonies for the Tea Masters Cup at the Hanoi Cultural Exchange Center. First, we are treated to live performances of traditional Vietnamese music. It was as lovely as it was soothing with, flute, strings and delicate percussion.
Then three tea previous winners of the competition prepare tea in various fashion. The first tea was Snow Shan green tea wrapped in lotus flower. Snow Shan grows on ancient tea trees in the Ha Giang region where we are heading to me tomorrow. It is named for the white fuzz that grows on the leaves. The tea master wrapped the leaves in a lotus blossom and let it sit for a minimum of three months to absorb the delicate floral aroma. The tea was light bodied, almost like a white tea, had a dry mouthfeel, charcoal at the beginning that softened into a green apple peel note with a slight grassy finish. Intriguing to say the least.
The second preparation was a pairing of red tea ( oolong in Vietnam, but in this case fairly oxidized ) with notes of honey and earth. Paired with young rice pasted encrusted in crunchy toasted lotus seed . Although this Tea is not fully oxidized it has a slight lively briskness. The pairing was successful in that the lotus seed eased the sweetness of the young rice paste and created a balance that wouldn't overbear the oolong.
Two more tea masters prepared as well, one with wild willow with thyme and the other a yancha from Wuyi.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch that was beautifully presented. Breaker briefly and headed to a pottery factory and shop to explore their showroom, gardens and wares.
A long day, but satisfying in many ways.
Tomorrow we will set out early and head to the mountains where Show Shan grows. It's a seven hour drive on twisty mountain roads in what is known to be lush with natural beauty. It will be an sharp contrast to the busy streets of Hanoi.
She began her tea career with Special Teas in 1999, handling varying roles in the fledgling company, including customer service, operations, office and sales management, and tea tasting. Her evolving responsibilities grew to include blending and QC not only for Special Teas, but also for its eventual sister company Teavana in the pre-Starbucks days.
She joined Adagio Teas in 2007 as a wholesale sales manager and currently also has the responsibilities of tea buyer and master blender for this industry pioneer. Her continuing tenure with Adagio has enabled her to deepen her passion for specialty tea with trips to origin and exploring tea trends worldwide.