A quid of betel, also called trau, is composed of four elements: an areca leaf (sweet taste), betel bark (hot taste), a chay
root (bitter taste), and hydrated lime (pungent taste). The custom of
chewing betel nut is unique to Vietnam. Old health books claim that
"chewing betel and areca nut makes the mouth fragrant, decreases bad
tempers, and makes digesting food easy". A quid of betel makes people
become closer and more openhearted. At any wedding ceremony, there must
be a dish of betel and areca nut, which people can share as they enjoy
the special occasion.
festivals or Tet Holidays, betel and areca nut is used for inviting
visitors and making acquaintances. Sharing a quid of betel with an old
friend is like expressing gratitude for the relationship. A quid of
betel and areca nut makes people feel warm on cold winters days, and
during funerals it relieves sadness. Betel and areca nuts are also used
in offerings. When Vietnamese people worship their ancestors, betel and
areca nut must be present at the altar. Nowadays, the custom of chewing
betel remains popular in some Vietnamese villages and among the old.
Let’s not forget to mention thuoc lao or strong tobacco. For women, betel can initiate various feminine conversation, but for men, thuoc lao is related to their joyfulness as well as the sadness in their lives.
Peasants always carry their dieu cay (pipe for smoking while ploughing the rice fields).