Burmese Pickled Tea

My girlfriend is currently reading Emma Larkin’s Finding George Orwell in Burma, a firsthand, in-depth exploration of one of the most oppressed states in the world – and it’s working its way on to my summer reading list. One of the things that Larkin mentions in her book is how tea and teashops are a huge part of Burmese culture and social life, perhaps similar to coffeeshop culture in the West.

This spurred me to do a quick Google search on tea in Burma; while I came across an interesting BBC article about the intersection of tea and politics, one of the more upbeat finds was a short post from In Pursuit of Tea about “laphet,” a popular Burmese snack of which the main ingredient is pickled tea leaves:

It’s eaten both at informal get-togethers and formal events such as weddings and funerals. The tradition dates back to the time of the Burmese kings. Laphet is essentially a green tea; young leaves plucked and fired before being buried underground anywhere from four to seven months; it’s kept underground till it is sold at market. The pickled (sour-tasting) tea leaves are mixed with ginger, garlic, chilis, oil, and salt and all eaten together. It’s a great snack to have with a beer, for instance. It has a slightly bitter taste that, when mixed with the other ingredients, makes for quite an addictive snack or dessert.” [IPoT]

This sounds like an intriguing snack, and I’m wondering how similar the taste is to Korea’s kimchi – check out a picture of a salad made with laphet here on flickr. I’d be interested to hear if any readers have eaten this.

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1 Response to “Burmese Pickled Tea”


  1. 1 Smiley October 4, 2007 at 6:33 am

    Hello

    Yes!! I have eaten this many times and absolutely love it.

    It can be eaten with hot fluffy white rice and is just delicious.

    My parents are burmese and have taught me to eat alot of burmese dishes since I was very young so it has grown on me.

    It is an acquired taste – but I will say to anybody that wants to try it – give it a go!!!!


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