Many countries have their own unique beverages. Brazil is famous for it’s Caipirinha. Italy is known for the espresso.
Vietnam is on a whole different level.
You may not have realized it because Vietnam doesn’t get the publicity it deserves, but Vietnam’s drink diversity is incredible.
While living in Hanoi I realized there is a passionate drink culture.
Not only does every other shop offer some unique beverage, but the streets are lined with little plastic chairs where inexpensive teas and juices are sold out of electric kettles and coolers.
Taking breaks regularly through out your day for a beverage is the norm here. On your way to work, in between projects, going to and from appointments, on your way home, after work with friends, etc.
Here is a small list of the many beverages I came across.
Note: Not every beverage on this list originated in Vietnam, but all (and many more) can regularly be found throughout the country.
Maybe the most recognizable coffee drink from Hanoi. Egg Coffee is coffee served with a a meringue like creamer. The result is an amazing beverage that has a custard like taste.
Sports drinks can be found all over the world, but Aquarius and Pocari Sweat are the most common in Vietnam. While they are originally from Japan, these more simplistic sports drinks are very popular in Vietnam. It's important to stay hydrated in the Vietnamese heat and these not overly sweet sports drinks go a long way.
Yes most every country in the world serves beer, but Vietnam has a deep beer culture worth exploring. There are a limited number of breweries spread across the country. The region you are in typically dictates the brand you drink.
Most town's have cheap drinking spots where a beer can go for as little as 20 cents USD.
One thing is for certain, the best way to drink beer in Vietnam is over ice with a group of friends. Ice in your beer is strange for many but it's how they do it around here.
Bubble tea is becoming something of an international phenomena. Vietnam is no different. The variety of bubble tea shops is only rivaled by the variety of flavors they offer.
For the college crowd in Vietnam, bubble tea is a near daily occurrence.
Traditional Vietnamese coffee is served with a phin. The phin is one part pour over, one part espresso machine, and one part french press. This little device is responsible for Vietnam's unique coffee flavor.
It is also a lesson in patience as most coffee shops will serve you your coffee while it is still brewing. Watching the coffee dribble out of the phin into your cup is part of the experience.
So many places serve iced coffee, but what makes Vietnamese iced coffee unique? It's the way it's served. While the ratio of espresso to sweetened milk varies between north and south, all methods typically involve the traditional Vietnamese filtered coffee.
A dessert drink of sorts, Che is a mix of sweet milk and fruit. Rarely is fresh fruit used. More commonly the fruit comes out of a syrupy jar, or is candied.
It was definitely not my prefered beverage while visiting, but the locals seem to go crazy for it.
While traditional coffee served from a phin is the norm, espresso is in no short supply here. Starbucks may not have fully penetrated this country (Yet), But that doesn't mean there aren't dozens if not hundreds of espresso drink variations available.
If you can think of it, you can find it in Vietnam. I once had a lemon juice espresso beverage that was surprisingly refreshing.
Almost always served out of a freshly carved coconut, coconut juice is everywhere here.
Coconuts is one of Vietnam's main crops.
Years ago I had a bad experience drinking coconut juice so I was shy to lean into the coconut craze. I'm glad a finally broke down and started drinking them.
There are few pleasures as great as drinking out of a chilled coconut under a hammock in Vietnam.
This one is strange. Grass jelly has origins from Malaysia, but has become somewhat standard across South East Asia. Grass Jelly is like a plant based Jello. I thought the taste was very strange, but others find it very appealing.
Fruit is everywhere in Vietnam. It can be found fresh year around thanks to Vietnam's climate. There are many fruits unique to the region. This makes the fruit smoothies in Vietnam a little different from anywhere else you've been.
Cheese tea, as I understand it, originates from China. It's next stop was Vietnam and it has somewhat exploded in the region.
Now before you get grossed out at the thought of cheese in your drink, think of cheesecake.
The cheese in cheese tea is cheesecake flavored foam. And it's surprisingly refreshing.
In the heat of Vietnam, your electrolytes will be disappearing faster than cotton candy in the rain. Lucky for you, Vietnam has a signature drink for that. It's lemon water with salt. I drank a lot of these. Some tasted like sea water, while others were perfectly balanced.
Salted lemon water can be a great way to get missing salts back in your body quickly.
Snake Wine can be found all over Vietnam. It is considered to have healing properties. While that could be true, you won't find me drinking that Sh--.
While the venom has likely been diluted, and venom is not dangerous when digested, I still prefer to not tempt fate.
Sting is the Monster energy drink of the East. While it was created in Nepal, it really caught on in South East Asia. The colors are very florescent. I don't drink a lot of these sort of drinks but I have to admit I kind of liked the strawberry flavor.
It took me a while to figure out what all these locals were doing smashing bamboo looking plants through a grinder. I finally realized it was sugar cane. It's the largest crop Vietnam produces.
Very often you'll find cane juice being served out of a plastic bag. It's the cheap and easy way to sell it.
Chrysanthemum is the most popular tea in Vietnam. Except for maybe green tea. In Hanoi, thousands of Vietnamese women set up little Chrysanthemum tea stands along the street every day. It's like a little kids lemonade stand, but instead, it's little old ladies with an electric kettle and little plastic chairs.