I think it is fair to say that many people are stressed by the pandemic, not working at ‘non-essential’ jobs, working from home or overworked at ‘essential’ jobs, separated from loved ones by social distancing, home-schooling multiple children, and all the rest of the ‘normal’ life in 2021.
Cham Tea is a naturally soothing tea that is organic, healthy, delicious and grown only on Cham Island. Cham Tea comes directly and only from the trees and herbs that are native to Cham Island. The elder women make their tea by harvesting a traditional recipe of forest leaves, chopping them and drying whole leaves and twigs in the sun. This once rare and exotic tea is now available.
The Cham people are an ethnic minority in Vietnam. Their ancient culture predates the history of modern culture. They have beautiful artwork, rich traditions, and healthy lifestyle. The Cham Museum celebrates their statues, artifacts and customs.
Cham Island (Cù lao Chàm) is actually the name for a group of small islands off the coast of Vietnam, named for the people that lived there. This is in Vietnam’s territorial waters, farther out from the land, part of the larger South China Sea. There are eight small islands, tho only one is inhabited today. On this island are two main villages: Bãi Lăng and a few minutes further along the coast, Bãi Hương.
Only a few years ago, their water came from hand-dug open wells. People lowered a bucket on a rope and pulled up enough water to fill a jug, which they carried back to their homes. Electricity, too, was available in small doses. Solar panels would pour a few batteries full of juice, which would excite a small number of light bulbs for a few hours.
Electric power was brought to the island a few years ago, but many old customs remain. Even today, hot showers are rare. Traditionally, the water is heated by hand and mixed with the cold then poured over the body with a scoop.
Boats to Cham Island
There are only two ways to get to Cham Island. The old fashioned way was a slow boat. The traditional blue Vietnamese with painted eyes on the bow and the red Vietnamese flag. These boats chug-chuged along up and over the waves. It’s only about ten kilometers from the ancient town of Hoi An, but their slow trip would take hours. Even today, this is how most freight arrives on the island.
These days the much faster mode of transportation is the speed boat. This is how the tourists used to come to the island. They were in a hurry and had the money. They would hurry to get in the boats and hurry to the island, so they could hurry to relax. They used to come by the dozen. Now they make the trip only two times a day.
Cham Island Villages
Most of the activities are in Bãi Lăng. Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, fishing, hiking and relaxing in hammocks were the favorite pastimes. There are homestays where people rent out rooms for vacationers. Before COVID, tourists bought handmade souvenirs.
The smaller village further down the coast is Bãi Hương. There are only about 400 people in this quiet fishing village. It’s very relaxing to stay here. In Bai Hoang, too there are Homestays and also Yoga retreats alongside the calm island life. Elders in both villages practice the ancient craft of making Cham Island Tea.
Cham Tea is organic, healthy, delicious and grown only on Cham Island – available here. Cham Island Tea is made from the trees and herbs that are native to Cham Island. These plants are older than the Pagodas, older than the statues, older than the people. They have been here for centuries. Perhaps the calmness of the villages comes from this timeless tea.
Many ingredients go into this tea, but I don’t know how many for sure. The women aren’t telling. You can buy their tea but not their recipe. Only the essentials are on the label. The elder women who make it aren’t about to share their recipe. That’s a secret they pass along to each other. They only share the tea.
Only From Cham Island
The island, once busy with tourists, is quiet. Now those tourists are gone. The tour guides are unemployed. The quiet here has a different feel now. The men are out in their Coracles (Thuyền thúng) actually catching fish to feed their families.
The homestays are mostly empty. The fish are here, the residents are here and the the trees are here. Like everyone, the people are waiting for life to start again. The women are harvesting Cham Tea (Lá Rừng) and selling it to feed their children.
Visiting Cham Island
From Danang (Đà Nẵng), it’s several hours to get to Cham Island. First, there is the most-of-an-hour ride to Hoi An and then to the boat dock. Then there is the most-of-an-hour boat ride to the main island. And then there is the motorbike trip down the coast to Bãi Hương and then to the homestay.
This is my third trip to Cham Island. One year ago I came here as part of a tourist group. We were shown the hand-dug water wells and the fishermen teaching the too-busy people how to relax. On the first trip, the old women offered me some tea. At first I refused. I’m a coffee drinker. Besides, I don’t usually buy souvenirs. I visited the museum.
The Tea Called Me Back
The second trip was different. I walked by the tea sellers again. I had a little room in my bag and I had a little money in my pocket. I bought a bag of tea. I tried the tea one day after I got home. At first, it was so subtle that I didn’t notice the calmness come over me. But I was calmer. A couple days later, I made a second cup.
Now, you have to understand that this tea looks different. This is not your typical teabag. It’s organic. I mean, really organic. It has whole leaves and twigs. You may want a strainer. Maybe there is something to this after all. I used my smartphone to decipher some of the ingredients. The label says it is good for the liver. Whatever it is, it brought me back to the island.
Try Some Cham Tea
If you are not a tea drinker, this one might surprise you. Don’t expect to find a different taste. In fact, I recommend that you don’t have any expectations. If you are a tea drinker, you will like Cham Tea. It is subtle, calming and healthy, just like Cham Island and just like the elder women who sell it.
Let this tea sneak up on you like it did me. There is a surprising calmness in this tea that has been grown for centuries, and gathered by the women of Cham Island. There is something magical about this tea. It brought me back to the island. See what effect it has on you.
Subtle, Calming, Healthy
Cham Tea comes directly and only from Cham Island. From the land of a simpler, island lifestyle where the elder women continue a timeless tradition of gathering tea leaves by hand. One woman told me that each bag will last five people for ten days. I didn’t count the number of cups in the bag I bought, but it’s at least that many. Besides, it’s not about numbers, it’s about the slowing down – the calming.
What I noticed was it’s subtlety purity; the lack of any preservatives or anything added. Nothing is added and nothing has been taken away. You can try it yourself. This once rare and exotic tea is now available. See below.
Cham Tea Subscription
The people of Cham Island understand tradition, values, feeding their children, and living a healthy, vegetarian-seafood (Hải sản), organic life. They want to continue this lifestyle. They do this by selling their tea. You can help. Start your subscription and experience Cham tea for yourself. Share it with your friends.
The first month is only $1, shipping and tax are included. After that, you will get one bag of tea each month for only $10. Please allow some time for the tea to reach you. Of course, you may cancel at any time. The first bag of tea is yours to enjoy.