Hoi An, an old Chinese and later French trading town, was once bustling with the trade of goods, some of which were tea. Today Hoi An still shows some traces of its tea trading roots. In particular, the modern day Tam Tam Restaurant and Cafe is housed in what used to be a warehouse for tea. This building still flaunts old colonial charm and original Chinese Calligraphy but seems to serve up more Jack and Coke than tea these days.
In the drizzling rain of early morning, in the busy core of the central market, one finally stumbled upon some nice tea. The shop had large glass sealed jars of different grades and brands of Vietnamese green tea on display in the front of the shop. The modest concrete store looked much like the facade of the commonplace tea shops of China but with a more rundown and barebones feel to it.
One sat with the shopkeeper, a polite, smiley, and undemanding young lady, and sampled the highest grade green tea that the shop had. One didn't take tasting notes, but instead stayed in the moment enjoying tea in the ambiance of the old market.
The Vietnamese tea seemed to share elements of both Chinese and Japanese green teas. It had a fresh grassy greenness to it that was common of Japanese teas while dwindling in a deeper roasted notes found in some Chinese greens. One remembers that the aftertaste of this tea was its shining point as it nicely evolved in the mouth and throat.
One wished to take a bit of this tea with but because the tea was sold loose and not in an airtight container one decided to pick up a Vietnamese oolong in a tightly sealed vacuum pack instead. One didn't sample this tea but it was quite inexpensive and was recommended by the courteous shopkeeper. As it turned out this would be the only tea purchased throughout ones travels in Vietnam.