The Mong ethnic minority group, inhabiting Ta Xua Commune in Bac Yen District, located in the northern mountainous province of Son La, has long considered tea one of their greatest assets which has been passed on from generation to generation.

Shan Tuyet tea from Ta Xua, one of the premium brands in Vietnam, is mostly produced from century-old Shan Tuyet tea trees, which thrive in the northern mountainous provinces of Son La, Ha Giang, Lai Chau and Yen Bai.

Perched on precarious spots in mountainous areas which are 1,500 meters above sea level on average and exposed to a cold, misty climate, the trees yield large grayish-white tea buds, which boast a white downy, snow-like layer, and one of the finest-quality, distinctive tea varieties. It is the white fluffy layer that gave the tea its other name, “Shan Tuyet” (snow).

The trees are typically cultivated organically without the use of chemicals or fertilizers and are usually processed manually by members of the Mong and Dao ethnic minorities.

Ta Xua tea means “medicine to cure illnesses” in the Mong dialect.

The trees began to be grown between 1967 and 1970 on an area of more than 100 hectares.

Among them, there were 400 to 500 centuries-old trees with large, overhanging canopy and rugged silver trunks reaching the towering height of 10 to 15 meters.

Each tree can yield seven or eight kilograms of raw tea.

After drying the buds, artisans put them in big jars and cover the jars with large banana leaves.

The jars are left for three or four years so the tea leaves would lose their pungent smell and acrid taste, and attain certain sponginess.

The Shan Tuyet tea produced in Ta Xua boasts a mild fragrance and produces a dark brown liquid.

The liquid initially has a bitter, acrid taste which gradually turns sweet and pleasant to the throat and tongue.

The maiden tea water is as fresh and alluring as a virgin, and the enjoyable taste lingers with even the fourth or fifth tea water.

The Shan Tuyet tea from Ta Xua tastes best when dipped in water fetched from the springs in the area.

Below are a series of photos by Nguyen Trong Chinh featuring one of the finest tea brands of Vietnam.

These photos were one of the entries to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper's year-long competition themed “Vietnam – Country – People" concluding in October last year.

Tuoi Tre News - January 28, 2017