I've documented my predilection for caffeine pretty thoroughly over the years. Coffee has taken precedence in the pages of this blog.
But I'm a bit of an old git 'cause young Hanoians are throwing tea down their throats as if it were some kind of new drug. Around St Joe's in Nha Tho street each summer night in Hanoi, groups of youths are crowding the footpaths gossiping, thumbing messages on their mobile phones, shrieking and laughing, primping and preening and...drinking tea. Not cocktails or beer.
It's all rather innocent.
And it's cheap, too. Cheaper than coffee.
I have been wanting to find out what all the fuss is about. But I can't sit with all those really young people. I would look ridiculous, kind of like a child molester. I don't fit in. So last Sunday morning I watched from afar at the most popular tea shop in the Old Quarter. Eating across the road, I shouted an order for a standard tra chanh and proceeded to observe the clientele. Even at 8am, the girls are very leggy, shoed in high heels far from ideal for Hanoi's surfaces or riding a motorbike.
It's a chat festival. Points are being made. Confessions and relationship woes. World cup scores and lottery numbers are updated. There's cigarettes getting shared amongst the boys, compliments about shoes, bags and cosmetics amongst the girls. Next door, a building is being torn down, jackhammers and scraping shovels hardly dulling the conversation. The tea keeps going down.
And what of the tea?
It's green tea...iced with sugar and lime and a definite cooler in the mid-July Hanoi heat.
One glass of tra chanh (lemon tea) - 6000VND (USD30c, AUD35c)
31 Dao Duy Tu St
Old Quarter, Hanoi