Being 17 years old, Vu Phuong May won the Potential Award in Tea Master Cup in 2019 held in Hoang Su Phi (Ha Giang Province). With love and passion for tea, she harbours a dream of upholding the tradition of making tea in Viet Nam.
May’s little house is located in Dong Cao Village (Tien Xuan commune, Thach That district, Hanoi), 40 km far away from Hanoi’s city Centre. This place is typical mountainous area. The golden colour of terraced fields in harvest season makes people feel like they are getting lost in the Northwest of Viet Nam. In the sunny yard overlooking small garden, May and her mother are drinking tea. The gentle aroma of Bancha tea merges with the fragrance of ripe rice evokes a serene atmosphere.
“We often drink tea in the morning. In Vietnam, we believe that tea binds people together. It used to be an indispensable part of Vietnamese culture. A hot cup of tea is considered basic courtesy when a guest arrives. Farmers brew fresh tea leaves in a pot and carry it with them to the rice fields for the whole day. The custom of drinking tea has existed for a long time However, the hustle and bustle of city life are taking this traditional custom away.” May shared.
May pursued her passion for making tea when she was a little girl. She recalled:” When I was a child, I often drank tea with my grand father. However, my grandmother’s tea was a little bit acrid. I just love the sweets served with tea. At that time, I dreamt that one day, I could make my own tea for her. Regrettably, she had passed away before my dream came true.” May’ grandmother has soon become her motivation of learning to make tea. At the Vietnam Tea Association ( 46 Tang Bat Ho, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi), May is the youngest member. Despite this, she does not have a feeling of inferiority. May always puts her heart and mind into learning. In 2019, she decided to take part in Masters Cup Vietnam 2019 contest. In this tournament, the contestants had to compete in four categories of tea making, tea and snack, tea tasting and tea mixology. May chose Banchatea and an ancient-style pot for her competition. It is a kind of tea that is picked from young buds and young leaves on hundred-year-old trees. May impressed juries with her tea brewing skill.
“Last year, I had a tea tour to ancient tea forest in Thong Nguyen Hoang Su Phi Ha Giang. I realized that the cultivation of tea in Vietnam has long history, up to three thousand years. I also surprised by the fact that 90% of the raw tea in China was imported from Vietnam.” May said. She believed that Vietnamese tea deserves to be respected, preserved and invested for development.
Sharing about her upcoming plans, Phuong May said that she would go to Japan early next year to learn and improve her knowledge about nourishing tea. May hope that when she returns to Vietnam, a tea brand developed by her would be released. The little girl also expects that her contributions will spread the traditional tea-drinking culture to everyone, especially young people.