Elsewhere in Southern Vietnam these unexcitable, cheap, commonly chipped and cracked cups were usually filled with green tea leaves mixed with small flowers. These small flowers gave the tea a natural perfume that seemed to cloak the slight bitterness given off by large, usually torn leaves. This is the tea of the common people of Vietnam and is found virtually everywhere on ice and occasionally hot in the south. But on these small islands they seemed to drink tea a bit differently.
The tea they use is sometimes the green variety but more often a low grade black tea is prepared in old colonial style pots or cheapy new Chinese pots. Alone this tea is nothing more than cheap, common black tea. It is what these smiley people add to it that makes it an interesting brew.
While the loose leaves are steeping in hot water, the island folk put a little wooden bamboo spoonful of homemade island honey, and a teaspoon of dried bee pollen to each cup. They then pour the tea into the cups, top it off by squeezing a freshly picked lime into the mixture, and stir.
One has never heard of tea prepared in this manner. Although it somewhat resembles what the English sometimes do with their tea, it tasted quite different.
As far as the actual tea goes, it wasn't so good. But, after everything is added it was intensely flavourful, fresh, and vibrant. The final mixture seemed to bring the flat flavour of this dull black tea to life.
What one most enjoyed about tea prepared 'Mekong Style' was that the feel and taste of this concoction mirrored the spirit of the people of these small islands.
And this is how one will remember the tea and people of the Mekong- intense, flavourful, fresh, and vibrant.