As foreshadowed in our last blog post, we will be discussing a recreational activity unique to the Hanoians, Tra Chanh Chem Gio (Banter Iced Tea) a.k.a Tra Chanh Via He (Street Iced Tea) a.k.a Tra Chanh Ha Noi (Hanoi Iced Tea). Whichever name you call it, it is quintessentially, undeniably, a Hanoian’s drink.
No one can pinpoint when exactly the drink was born and when it became popular, but I distinctly recall frequenting Tra Chanh spots almost every night nearly a decade ago.
The drink itself is simple. It is made with loose green tea, honey, liquorice, a few drops of lemon juice, a hint of jasmine, and ice with some variations depending on the recipe of the shop serving it. The taste is a combination of sweetness, sourness, and the peculiar astringent taste caused by the tannins in the tea, a taste which the French describes as “âpre”.