Enjoy the scent of Narcissus tea in a golden age again

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Author: Le Ngoc Linh
Image source: Mua Thu Cau Ca

Narcissus flower marinated tea

Narcissus flower, the flower with white petals and yellow pistil, the fragrance is gentle and elegant but no less noble; used to contribute spring in noble Hanoi families during the old Lunar New Year. Narcissus flower tea, known as “the regal chi incense”, is only used by the owner to set up high-ranking guests or people to wear guests.

As soon as the week of December knocks on the door, the flowers of Narcissus have been carefully selected to keep up with a season of “playing flowers” and marinating tea. Good tubers must be flat, spongy tubers covered with cockroach-coloured shells. The round, hard, healthy-looking bulbs must be removed by hand; branching too much will not produce flowers with a beautiful scent to weave into the tea. For the bulbs to smell fragrant, the tea maker must also know how to “play” and carefully take care of the flower bulbs. Nguyen Viet Bac – the owner of Thuong Tra shop – a famous tea maker in Hanoi and a flower player, said, “The Narcissus breed is very sentimental and melancholy, a little dirty is sick, a little heavy is painful, a little bit heavy. If it’s unfortunate that the leaves are broken, the person who peels Narcissus must be like a true monk in zazen, with no mixed thoughts in his head, then he wants to have a satisfied flower”. After more than twenty days of taking care of Narcissus, the flower scent has awakened when the flowers have begun to lose their wings, and it is also time to weave incense for tea.

Narcissus tea has a fragrant but not passionate aroma, seduced by its careful, gentle, troubled look. Therefore, tea materials used to weave incense must also be light and calm, “the taste should not be too bitter, the aftertaste must stay in the user’s mouth for a long time”, Viet Bac added. To make a tea suitable for Narcissus, the ingredients must be premium green tea that has been carefully brewed for four years, combined with pure white flowers, promising to bring cups of incense.

After selecting suitable materials, the steps of weaving incense for tea begin. It is a manual process and requires a lot of skill, meticulousness and care. The subtlety of a tea person will be revealed in every little step. Choosing a flower bowl to brew tea, Viet Bac slowly picked up each flower from the celadon porcelain plate, placed them side by side on the tea layer, like a flower cloth covering a tea mat, and then another layer of tea. Covered the flowers, and so on, the flowers covered the tea, and the tea covered the flowers; they hugged each other neatly in the bowl. When the last layer of tea was spread evenly, he slowly folded each edge of the wind paper neatly, carefully covering them with a blanket of wind paper that had been rubbed until soft like silk before closing the lid of the bowl. After a period of incubation, knowing that the tea is full of flower aroma, the flower corpses are picked up without even a bit of stigma, the delicate fragrance is faint, the tea continues to be heated to soften the scent, and then brewed. Cool for a few days for the tea flavour to blend. However, that fragile scent is not easily woven. After many trials and tests, “if the tea is clear, the taste is clear, and the fragrance has softened, the tea can be presented to the ancestors’ altar and served to close guests”.

So thorough, so elaborate, just for having a good cup of tea. And, if you have the opportunity to take a sip of Narcissus tea in the early spring, see the colour of the tea brewed as clear as autumn lake water, the pure tea taste like a good morning, the soft tea scent like an early spring garden, your guests will appreciate it. Will want to let go of all the worldly distractions and the hustle and bustle of the city; only you (and your loved ones) at a tea table at the beginning of the year. At that time, the weather was cold, a pot of tea was warm with the scent of spring, and people’s hearts were gentle and calm as if there had never been a ripple. At that time, you will understand why some people are crazy and spend a lot of time and energy packing a little flower scent in a cup of spring tea.

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