Trà Sen

Trà sen is a Vietnamese lotus tea known for its delicate and fragrant flavor of lotus flowers.

Lastest Updated January 5, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
  • Traditional
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Fact: In the past, trà sen was a rare tea specialty that only Kings and royal families were allowed to enjoy.

Basic Information

Trà Sen: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/chah sen/

Alternative Name(s)

Chè sen, chè ướp sen, trà ướp sen

Drink Type

Hot non-alcoholic beverages

Mealtime

Anytime
Origin and Region

Trà Sen: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Unspecified
Vietnam Map
Popular Variation
Popular Variation
Popular Variation

Popular Trà Sen Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Trà Sen: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Green tea, lotus flower

Main Preparing Method

Steeping

Preparation Process

Tea leaves are layered with lotus flowers to absorb the scent. The tea is then steeped with hot water for serving.
A Deep Dive

Trà Sen: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

A rare type of tea in Vietnam

Taste

Bitter

Texture

Watery

Aroma

Fragrant lotus aroma

Color

Black (dry), light yellow (brewed)

Serving Style

In teapots and poured into tea cups

Serving Temperature

Hot or warm

Accompaniment

Nuts, seeds, or fruits

Occasions

On any occasions

Calories

0 calories, according to data of MyFitnessPal for a cup of Che Sen

Popularity

Vietnam, China, Korea

Popular Similar Drinks

  1. Trà Lài
  2. Trà Xanh
  3. Rose Tea
  4. Chrysanthemum Tea

Popular Dining Area

Local stores in Vietnam

Trà sen is a Vietnamese dry tea that is infused with the fragrant aroma of lotus flowers. To make trà sen, people only pick the first bud and the following two leaves, often called “một tôm hai lá”. Then, these buds are dried until the water content in the leaves only remains around 5 – 7%.

Tra Sen Infographic

Ideally, this traditional tea is stored in banana leaves first for 20 – 30 days until the tangy profile is reduced. As for the lotus flowers, they must be harvested from the swarms of Dong Tri, Thuy Su, Quang Ba village in Ho Tay.

Additionally, the harvesting time is crucial when it’s usually done early in the morning when the flowers still have some dews on them. Once the lotus flowers are extracted, locals then alternate layers of tea and lotus flowers. 

This process is then repeated 7 to 9 times, with each having a drying process between them. Due to the complicated preparation process, trà sen in a teapot can remain flavorful for weeks. On average, 2.2 pounds of trà sen requires around 1000 to 1400 lotus flowers to infuse the flavor.

To fully understand Vietnamese trà sen, you should go through some of the adaptations of this tea before figuring out the process of steeping this beverage. Also, you should uncover a few food options that pair well with this tea before learning about the benefits and drawbacks of consuming trà sen.

Next, it’s essential to look into the common inquiries relating to trà sen and find out some tea versions that are like Vietnamese trà sen.

Key Points

  • Trà sen is a Vietnamese tea infused with the aroma of lotus flowers.
  • The tea undergoes an intricate preparation process before being combined with lotus flowers.
  • The tea and the lotus flowers are alternately spread and dried 7 to 9 times.
  • A teapot of trà sen can be repeatedly stepped for weeks.

Trà Sen Images

What Are the Different Variations of Trà Sen?

Trà sen is not just a simple combination of dry tea with lotus, as other parts of the flowers and even the leaves of the plant are also used to make tea. To keep it simple, let me introduce you to 7 popular versions of trà sen:

Tra Tim Sen

Made using the heart of the lotus flower, extracting from the seeds
Offering a more concentrated and intense lotus flavor
Has a bitter profile

Tra Uop Bong Sen Tuoi

Fresh lotus blossoms are used to infuse the tea
Providing a very fresh and natural lotus aroma

Tra La Sen

Utilizes lotus leaves instead of flowers
Used as a medicine with a sedative effect

Tra Sen Tui Loc

Lotus tea available in tea bags for convenience, offering a more subtle lotus flavor.

Tra Sen La Dua

A combination of lotus tea and pandan leaves
Offering an aromatic flavors

Tra Lien Tu

Used dried stamen of lotus flowers

Tra Sen Tay Ho

Named after the Tay Ho area in Hanoi
Has a high market value in Vietnam
A translucent light green color once steeped

These variations of trà sen are just one side of the story, as brewing and preparing this aromatic tea is also an interesting process to look at.

How to Prepare Trà Sen in Vietnam?

To prepare trà sen, there are a few steps that you need to know to ensure an aromatic mix of lotus tea when brewing:

Step 1: Warm the Teapot

Begin by warming your teapot with hot water. This helps maintain the temperature while brewing. Use about one teaspoon of trà sen leaves for each cup of tea you plan to brew.

Step 2: Boil Water

Bring water to a boil and then let it cool for a minute or two. The ideal water temperature for brewing trà sen is around 80-85°C (176-185°F). Using water that’s too hot can make the tea bitter.

Step 3: Steep the Tea

Add the trà sen leaves to the teapot and pour the hot water over them. Allow the tea to steep for a few minutes. The steeping time can be adjusted based on how strong you prefer your tea.

Step 4: Strain and Serve

After steeping, pour the tea into your cup.

Step 5: Enjoy

Savor the unique and delicate lotus aroma and flavor of the trà sen. It’s traditionally enjoyed without any additives like milk or sugar to appreciate its natural flavor.

Once you’ve prepared a good cup of trà sen, take time to enjoy it with a few recommended accompaniments to fully appreciate its fragrant flavor.

What Accompaniments to Enjoy with Trà Sen?

When it comes to accompaniments, the key is to choose items that complement rather than overpower the subtle flavors of the tea. Here are some suggestions:

Keo Dau Xanh

Traditional Vietnamese sweets

Mung bean or lotus seed-based sweets, which are not too sugary, can complement the tea’s delicate flavor.

Longan

Fruits

Opt for mild and fresh fruits like lychee, longan, or slices of melon. Dried fruits like raisins are also acceptable. Their subtle sweetness and refreshing taste can enhance the tea-drinking experience.

Lotus Seeds

Nuts and seeds

A small serving of unsalted or lightly salted nuts, like cashews or lotus seeds, can be a great accompaniment, offering a contrast in texture.

Selecting the right accompaniments for trà sen is essential to fully appreciate its delicate and nuanced flavors. Now, after exploring the perfect pairings for this exquisite tea, let’s delve into understanding its benefits and drawbacks.

Pros and Cons of Drinking Trà Sen

These are a few important features that influence your decision to enjoy trà sen:

Pros

  • Rich in Antioxidants: Like many teas, trà sen is rich in antioxidants, which can help in fighting free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body.
  • Aids Digestion: The tea can aid in digestion, making it a pleasant after-meal beverage.
  • Relaxation and Stress Reduction: Trà sen is known for its calming properties, helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Low in Calories: It’s a low-calorie drink, making it a healthy choice for those monitoring their calorie intake.

Cons

  • Allergic Reactions: Some people might be allergic to lotus flowers, so it’s important to be cautious if you have plant allergies.
  • Potential Interactions with Medication: As with many herbal teas, there could be potential interactions with certain medications, so it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider if you have health concerns or are on medication.

To further extend your knowledge about trà sen, make sure to find out some of the concerns of many about this drink.

Trà Sen FAQs

Yes, it can be enjoyed as an iced tea, offering a refreshing alternative. However, the warm version is more popular.

Store it in a cool, dry place, shielded from direct sunlight and strong odors, to preserve its aroma and flavor.

Properly stored, it can retain its flavor for several months, but it’s best consumed within a few weeks for optimal freshness.

Like many teas, it has detoxifying properties due to its antioxidants, but it should not be relied upon as a primary detox method.

It’s commonly found as loose leaf, but some brands may offer it in tea bags for convenience.

Similar Beverages of Trà Sen

Tra Lai

Trà lài is a Vietnamese jasmine tea with a delicate and highly fragrant aroma.

Tra Xanh

Trà xanh is a Vietnamese green tea known for its delicate flavor and numerous health benefits.

Adam Sam

Adam Sam

Senior Food and Drink Editor

Expertise

Food Writer & Recipe Developer, Recipe Tester, Bartender, Cooking-video Maker, Editor In Chief

Education

  • University of Gastronomic Sciences – Pollenzo (Italy) (MA Food Culture, Communication & Marketing)
  • Johnson & Wales University (US) (Baking and Pastry Arts)
  • Professional Bartender at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Adam Sam, an experienced food writer and recipe developer, is passionate about blending diverse culinary traditions, national dishes, and innovative beverages, showcasing his proficiency in both traditional and modern recipe testing.

As the Editor-in-Chief, he elevates culinary content from street food to fine dining, focusing on Western cuisine and types of drinks at azcuisines.com, and is professional in creating engaging cooking videos that simplify complex dishes and ingredients.

His passion for food is evident in his writing, where he uniquely merges various cultures, traditions, and contemporary trends, skillfully combining classic recipes with modern cooking methods.

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