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.