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  The mezzanine at Tea Coffee Tree café in Ho Chi Minh City

Tea Coffee Tree café opened this month in a short alley off Nguyen Du Street, in the heart of the city around five minutes walk from the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The alley has a few tiny sidewalk restaurants and to get to Tea Coffee Tree, you walk up a staircase with ivy-covered walls and enter a lush terrace garden that is the café.

The café has a serene, tropical atmosphere created by its rich foliage, potted, plants and trellis, as well as its wide open spaces and bright white furniture. There are white chairs on the white ceramic floor, and white cushion covers next to cute wooden tables shaded by trees.

There are also white stone statues and big white ceramic vases and tree pots, plus white umbrellas on the terrace.

As the name would suggest, there are trees and bonsais inside the dining room. There is a small bar cut out of an ivy-covered wall.

I chose a table in the corner. Through a wooden-framed wall-length window, I had a view of central Saigon. The tallest building was the Sheraton Hotel at the corner of Dong Khoi and Dong Du streets in the distance. The shorter buildings close by were old, mossy apartment buildings built during the French occupation.

The cafe is surrounded by a green cradle of very large, shady tamarind trees and the terrace garden with smaller trees, plants and ivy.

 
A corner of Tea Coffee Tree café in Ho Chi Minh City
The place reminds me of something as familiar as my parents' garden and as distant as a deserted tropical island.

The garden is home to a lively little world of butterflies, birds and bees that fly from one tree or plant to another.

If you like the idea of a tree house, book a table at the mezzanine above the terrace. From there, one can touch the tamarind tree filled with tiny yellow flowers and brown fruits.

The café serves tea, coffee, and healthy food. In comparison to other cafés in the area, it is a bit more expensive, but half of the tables there were occupied at 10:30 a.m. in the morning.

For its drink menu, Tea Coffee Tree offers a big selection including Vietnamese coffee, Italian coffee, tea, juices and smoothies.

Vietnamese coffee ranges from VND45,000 (hot black coffee) to VND55,000 (iced coffee with condensed milk). Italian coffee ranges from VND45,000 (espresso single shot) to VND75,000 (cappuccino double shot).

There are five kind of teas all priced at VND75,000 including English breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, jasmine gold, and fruit chamomile.

TEA COFFEE TREE

86 Nguyen Du Street, District 1, HCMC

The café offers a big selection of around 10 kinds of different juice and smoothies of which the highlights are pomelo, honey, lime and ginger juice (VND75,000); "all green" (cucumber, celery and broccoli juice VND75,000); banana, avocado, soy milk smoothie (VND75,000) and pomelo and strawberry smoothie (VND75,000).

For its food menu, the café offers light healthy salads, pastries, Vietnamese dishes, and combos for lunch (VND135,000 including one main course and one drink).

The salad menu has nine dishes, including assorted vegetables (VND85,000), egg salad (VND115,000), potato salad (VND95,000), fruit salad (VND95,000), cold pasta salad (VND 85,000), tuna salad (VND125,000), shrimp and a side salad (VND125,000), grilled chicken with potato salad (VND125,000) and chicken salad (VND125,000).

This café also has some Vietnamese snacks and traditional dishes such as beef crispy potato shrimp, bird's nest (VND125,000), lemon grass grilled snail (VND125,000), vegetarian spring rolls (VND95,000) and shredded chicken stir fried rice with various mushrooms (VND95,000).

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