Unlike many countries where street drinking is illegal, Vietnam has its own street drinking culture. In big cities like Hanoi, when it comes to iced tea and sugar cane juice, drinking on the pavement or in the park is the thing to do.

Throughout Hanoi, streets and parks are alive with food and drink stalls, inviting those seeking for quick refreshments or those wanting to chew the fat for a few hours with friends (though the latter depends on your willingness to sit on tiny stalls.)

1.Hanoi tea and lemon tea

Tra (tea) is the most popular either in its hot or iced form (tra da). It is poured into a small glass from a teapot or flask and should cost no more than 4,000 VND a glass; commonly 1,000 – 2,000 VND.

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If you’re not a fan of straight green tea which is usually quite strong and bitter, try tra chanh: lemon iced tea. This comes in a larger glass with lemon, is sweetened with sugar and served over ice. It is delicious and super refreshing on a hot day. The most popular shops are located in Dao Duy Tu Street . The area around St Joseph’s Cathedral is also an ideal place where you can sip on tra chanh while taking in the fantastic view of the old church. Other places in Old Quarter can be found on the corner of Hang Bac and Hang Ngang Street. Expect to pay around 10,000 VND, possibly more in the tourist areas.

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On summer evenings, flows of young people gather at trà chanh (lemon green tea) shops in Hanoi’s Old Quarter not just to drink but also to shoot the breeze. Over a glass of lemon green tea, youngsters can chat the entire evening.

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2. Talking big over lemon green tea

“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 passers-by who pause for rest and relaxation or young adults in their endless chat..

Many people go to trà chanh shops to meet and talk with 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 their spare time.

Hot topics often discussed at tea shops ranging from personal affairs, entertainment to society and economy. “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 stalls as their destination after dinner, instead of coffee shops or luxurious bars like many foreigners would imagine. Sitting in a narrow corner on the pavement, customers are all engaged in the busy atmosphere on the streets and glued to their chairs by the endless talk of their friends.

To be continued…

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Written by Quách Quý Tôn – PR Department[/author_info] [/author]