I am an avid tea drinker. Our kitchen bench is piled high with teapots and jars of tea leaves. Morning isn’t really morning for me without a cup of tea. Or morning tea. Or afternoon tea. Or bedtime. You get the drift. Tea. I like to drink it.
So when, on our recent trip to Vietnam, we stumbled across a perfect tea house in Hoi An, it quickly became our favourite haunt. It was everything a tea house should be – simple, with wooden beams overhead and big windows in the front to let in the natural light. Jars of tea and spices were arranged along the counter and the handmade tea sets were carefully arranged across the tables.
Perhaps the most striking thing, though, was the tranquility of the place, underscored by the silence. All of the girls who worked there were deaf. The tea shop is part of Reaching Out, a fair trade gift shop and business established and run by other[dis]abled people. Along with the beautiful tea shop, Reaching Out also has a retail shop in Hoi An full of beautiful artisanal clothes, crockery, and jewellery, all made by other-abled Vietnamese people in the workshop at the back of the store.
And of course, let’s not forget the tea itself, served in their beautiful handmade tea sets. The Red Lantern tea was subtle and earthy, the green tea was astringent and strong, but my favourite was the aromatic jasmine tea made from the leaves of a 300 year-old tree. Each pot was served with a sweet – dried papaya, sugared coconut, moist carrot cake, thin ginger snaps.
We also had their wonderful freshly squeezed lime juice. Incredibly refreshing and with a choice of sweetener that included cinnamon liquid (my pick) and ginger liquid. The juice, along with the welcome shot of iced green tea, was served in thick blue or green glass tumblers.
Best of all, W loved playing with the girls who worked there (as they did with her), and she was even gifted a super-cute pair of yellow overalls!
If you’re ever in Hoi An, I highly recommend a visit. Also, please visit the Reaching Out website and consider supporting them. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few of the teas I am drinking (and enjoying) most at the moment:
- Turmeric Tea (courtesy of 101 Cookbooks) starts my day
- Fenugreek Tea as I’m still breastfeeding
- Pu-erh Tea that my brother and his wife brought over from Taiwan