Bill Gates, girlfriend spend 80 minutes enjoying tea, meditation on Da Nang mountain peak

American billionaire Bill Gates and his girlfriend Paula Hurd spent 80 minutes learning about Vietnamese tea and meditation on Ban Co mountain peak during their four-day trip to Da Nang on Wednesday.

The route leading to Son Tra peninsula restricted visitors that afternoon for the special visitors attending the tea meditation session at the height of 700 m above sea level.

Two days before, two of Gates’s assistants flew to Hanoi and went to the house of Vietnamese tea artiste Hoang Anh Suong to discuss every detail about the tea meditation session.

Suong, with over 20 years of organizing thousands of tea meditation sessions, was present at the top of Ban Co early in the afternoon and brought with him two ancient tea sets that he often uses to serve heads of state, along with lotus and ancient snow shan teas.

Two staff members from a travel company carried a set of ancient tables and chairs up hundreds of stone steps to the top of Ban Co. In Vietnamese culture, especially the old wealthy class, it is common to sit and drink tea on ancient tables and chairs.

The tables and chairs were placed next to a fairy chess board, thus named because the board lies next to a fairy statue, with a layer of mist below.

Hoang Anh Suong prepares a tea table for Bill Gates on top of Ban Co Mountain in Da Nang, next to a fairy chess board, on March 6, 2024. Photo courtesy of Hoang Anh Suong

At 5 p.m., Gates and his girlfriend arrived at the foot of the mountain and walked together to the top, while his representative and bodyguards stayed down.

A nun from Da Nang joined them on top of Ban Co that day.

Suong said that when he met Gates and his girlfriend, he was surprised by their simple style, with T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers.

(From L) A nun from Da Nang joins Bill Gates, his girlfriend Paula Hurd, and tea artiste Hoang Anh Suong for a tea meditation session on Ban Co mountain peak in Da Nang on March 6, 2024. Photo courtesy of Hoang Anh Suong’s Facebook page

Suong guided the couple on how to meditate, with the nun’s help, because “Western people are now very interested in meditation,” he said.

He added that atmosphere on top of the mountain was so peaceful he could “clearly hear Gates’ breathing.”

After 10 minutes of meditation, Suong brewed two types of Tan Cuong tea marinated with lotus flowers.

“The first cups of tea I offered, Bill Gates and Paula Hurd drank them down very quickly. I asked them if the tea was too strong because most Westerners are used to drinking black tea, with a light taste, while lotus tea usually tastes acrid, I got the answer ‘very delicious’,” Suong said.

Tan Cuong tea is a famous brand in Vietnam’s northern province of Thai Nguyen.

“Paula Hurd explained that at home she also drinks green tea,” Suong said.

Gates and Hurd were also surprised as they listened to Suong speak of the sophisticated and elaborate art of marinating lotus tea among Hanoians. A kilogram of lotus tea needs to be marinated five to seven times, each time with around 200 lotus flowers from Hanoi’s West Lake, he told them.

Hurd turned to Gates and joked, “You and I now become king and queen! (for getting to drink such precious tea)” Suong said.

Suong also spent time talking about how to brew and enjoy tea the ancient royal way, introduced tea making tools and how to choose a pot, cup, water and how to brew, pour and how to serve or enjoy the first sip of tea for 5-6 seconds, then purse your lips and swallow gently to feel the aroma of the tea.

Bill Gates (L) and his girlfriend Paula Hurd sit opposite to tea artise Hoang Anh Suong at a tea ceremony on Ban Co mountain peak in Da Nang, as a nun observes from a distance, March 6, 2024. Photo provided to VnExpress

Suong explained to his guests that Vietnamese people always choose quiet places to drink tea: Ancient masters often went to the mountains or to their study rooms. In a quiet space, people have the opportunity to understand themselves.

“The foundation and essence of the tea ceremony is a matter of understanding. When you understand each other, love is true love,” Suong recalled what he told Gates.

He also explained that with tea meditation, tea was not just to enjoy but a way to cultivate the mind.

“When I talked about love, both showed their love right in front of us. This made me very happy,” Suong shared.

They were so engrossed in talking about tea that they forgot to look at the clock and thus the tea ceremony lasted 20 minutes longer than the one-hour schedule, he said.

Suong took the initiative to end the conversation, as Gates and Hurd told him that they would return to Vietnam with their families.

The couple left Da Nang on their private jet Thursday night.

Source: vnexpress

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