On summer evenings, thousands of young people gather at trà chanh (lemon green tea) shops in Hanoi’s Old Quarter not just to drink but also to chat.
The most popular shops are located in Dao Duy Tu Street and other areas close to the Cathedral and Hoan Kiem (Returned Sword) Lake in the centre of the city.
Materials for making the tea include green tea, lemon, sugar and ice. Over a glass of lemon green tea, young people can chat the entire evening.
Trà chanh offers a different tang and creates a new blended tea drink. In summer evenings when retail shops start to close, lemon green tea stalls become more and more crowded with those seeking quick refreshment or wanting to chat a few hours with friends.
Although it is not a traditional drink, trà chanh has offered a new fashionable flavour for many Hanoians.
Many people say they go to trà chanh shops to meet and talk to friends about whatever they are interested in. Ordering a glass of green tea, with little sugar, lemon and ice, they can sit as long as they want to enjoy in their spare time.
Hot topics often discussed at tea shops are related to fresh scandals involving models or gamblers. It seems that young people want to show off their knowledge and style through their stories and “talking big” adds spice to the drink.
Sitting next to small groups of young people you will soon know who they are through a string of “pavement slangs” that sound jarring to your ears.
Young girls like to drink lemon green tea when going on a date with new boyfriends.
Upper-class people also choose trà chanh shops as their destination after dinner, instead of coffee shops or luxurious bars as they used to in the old days.
Sitting in a narrow corner on the pavement, customers are engaged in the busy atmosphere on the streets and glued to their chairs by the endless talk of their friends and beautiful views outside.
A list of popular trà chanh shops in Hanoi:
1. Dao Duy Tu Street
2. Cathedral area on Ly Quoc Su Street
3. Metropole area on Ly Thai To Street
4. Surrounding West Lake area
5. Hang Bac Street in the Old Quarter
Prices range between VND8,000 and VND12,000 a glass.
Ruby Tran (VOV News)