Betel leaf and Areca Nut have important socio-cultural and ceremonial uses in Vietnam. In ancient times, the Vietnamese habit to chew Betel could be compared to the western habit of drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes.
The betel leaf (La Trau) belong to the Pepper family. It contains a narcotic stimulant and may have some medicinal value. Habitual chewing stains the teeth.
The Areca is a tall, slender tree cultivated in all Southern parts of Vietnam. It has yellowish-red fruits the size of a hen's egg (Cau), containing the seed about the size of an acorn, conical shape with flattened base and brownish in color externally; internally mottled like a nutmeg.
Betel masticatory (Trau) is made from slices of Areca nut smeared onto a betel leaf rolled together with other aromatic flavorings and lime paste. When chewed, it produces mild stimulatory effects with a pleasant bittersweet taste.