Fermented or Pickled Tea Leaf Salad


  1. Lahpet. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. i.food:La Phet Thote (Fermented Tea Salad) Recipe

Lahpet, also spelt laphet, is Burmese for fermented or pickled tea. Burma is one of very few countries where tea is eaten as well as drunk. Its pickled tea is unique in the region, and is not only regarded as the national delicacy but plays a significant role in Burmese society.[1] Its place in the cuisine of Myanmar is reflected by the following popular expression:

“Of all the fruit, the mango’s the best; Of all the meat, pork’s the best; Of all the leaves, lahpet’s the best”.
Politics Lahpet was an ancient symbolic peace offering between warring kingdoms in the history of Myanmar, and is exchanged and consumed after settling a dispute.


Market stall in Mandalay selling lahpet from Namhsan

Tea is native to Myanmar, as in Bangladesh, Assam, Laos and China, both Camellia sinensis and Camellia assamica, and grown mainly on the hills in northern Shan State around Namhsan in the Palaung substate of Tawngpeng, but also around Mogok in Mandalay Division, and Kengtung in southern Shan State. Zayan leaves, which make up about 80% of the harvest, are best picked in April and May before the onset of the monsoons, but they can be picked until October.[3][4] Another old adage goes thus: “For good lahpet let the Palaung take their time up the hills”.

Over 700 square kilometres of land are under tea with an annual yield of 60,000-70,000 tonnes. Of this 69.5% is green tea, 19.5% black tea and 20% pickled tea. Annual consumption runs at 52% green tea, 31% black tea and 17% pickled tea.[5]


The best tea leaves are selected for fermenting and the rest for drying. They are steamed for about five minutes before either drying or fermenting. Young leaves are packed into bamboo vats set in pits and pressed by heavy weights; the fermentation process is checked at intervals and the pulp may occasionally require re-steaming.[4]

Lahpet for sale at a market in Mandalay

A-hlu lahpet or Mandalay lahpet is served traditionally in a shallow lacquerware dish called lahpet ohk with a lid and divided into small compartments – pickled tea is laced with sesame oil in a central compartment surrounded, in their own compartments, by other ingredients namely crisp fried garlic, peas and peanuts, toasted sesame, crushed dried shrimp, preserved shredded ginger and fried shredded coconut. A rare treat in Mandalay may be a delicacy, dried and lightly panfried, called twin poh – a species of aquatic grub that is found only in a lake within the crater of an extinct volcano called Twindaung near Monywa.

Twin poh, a produce of Monywa, is a special delicacy.

No special occasion or ceremony in Myanmar is considered complete without lahpet. A-hlu means alms and is synonymous with a novitiation ceremony called Shinbyu although lahpet is served in this form also at hsun jway (offering a meal to monks), and weddings.[2] Nat (spirit) worship features lahpet offered to the guardian spirits of forests, mountains, rivers and fields.[6] Invitation to a shinbyu is traditionally by calling from door to door with a lahpet ohk, and acceptance is indicated by its partaking.

It may be served as a snack or after a meal holding centre stage on table with green tea; it may be just for the family and visitors. Apart from its bittersweet and pungent taste and leafy texture, many also believe in its medicinal properties as beneficial for the digestive system and controlling bile and mucus.[3] Its stimulant effect to ward off tiredness and sleepiness is especially popular with students preparing for exams, pwè goers at all-night theatrical performances, and helpers at funerals who keep watch overnight.[1]

Lahpet thohk, pickled tea salad is a favourite national dish.

Lahpet thohk or Yangon lahpet is pickled tea salad which is very popular all over Myanmar, especially with women,[citation needed] and some teashops would have it on their menu as well as Burmese restaurants. It is prepared by mixing all the above ingredients without the coconut but in addition includes fresh tomatoes, garlic and green chilli, sometimes shredded cabbage, and is dressed with fish sauce, sesame or peanut oil, and a squeeze of lime.[1] Many would have lahpet together with plain white rice, again a student favourite.

Some of the most popular brands sold in packets include Ayee Taung lahpet from Mandalay, Shwe Toak from Mogok, Yuzana and Pinpyo Ywetnu from Yangon. Mixed ingredients of fried garlic, peas, peanuts and sesame have become available as Hna-pyan jaw (literally twice fried) for convenience although traditionally they have been sold separately.[3][6] Ayee Taung has been around for over 100 years and its new recipes such as Shu-shè (extra hot) and Kyetcheini (Red Cross) are quite popular. Zayan lahpet is mixed with carambola (star fruit), and pickled young leaves may be cut together with coarse leaves. Many prefer Mogok lahpet as it uses only young tea leaves.[3]

In Northern Thailand, lahpet thohk can be found at restaurants where Shan ethnic food is served. In Thai, it is called yam miang (ยำเหมียง). Provinces where this can be found include Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.

One of the famous side-dishes of Myanmar is la phet thote. La Phet means pickled tea leaves and thote means salad. So if you translate in English, it’ll be “Pickled Tea Leaves Salad”.

Recipe Story

The making of the pickled tea is abit complicated. In Myanmar, the steamed leaves are heaped together in a pulp mass and thrown into basket and left until the next day. The baskets are then put into pits in the ground and covered with heavy weights placed on top of each. Inspection is often made to see how fermentation is progressing and sometimes there is re-steaming .

There are pickled tea leaves brands such as Pin Pyo Ywat Nu, Yuzana, A Yee Taung, etc. There are also different sorts of la-phet. There’s one type of laphet called “shuu-shel” which is a descriptive word of the condition of your mouth when you eat that extra-spicy la-phet. Another type is chin-set, which means spicy and sour. In this recipe, you gotta have some fermented (or pickled) tea leaves. I don’t know how to make one myself, and I just buy ready-made fermented tea leaves.


5 teaspoons laphet (fermented tea leaves) 
2 teaspoons crispy fried garlic 
2 teaspoons crispy fried yellow beans 
2 teaspoons roasted peanuts 
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds 
Extra Ingredients (add to your liking) 
– Chopped Tomato 
– Chopped Cabbage 
– Dried Prawns 
– Peeled Garlic 
– Green chili 
1/2 teaspoon limejuice 
3 teaspoons peanut oil

How to make La Phet Thote (Fermented Tea Salad)

First, put laphet (fermented tea leaves) into a bowl. If you want your laphet to be spicy, pound la-phet and green chili together in a mortar. It’ll became a paste. Pour 3 teaspoons of peanut oil. Leave it for awhile so that laphet can soak up the oil.

Put in crispy fried garlic, crispy fried yellow beans, roasted peanuts and sesame seeds in the bowl. Mix them together. You can also add chopped tomato, chopped cabbage, dried prawns, peeled garlic and green chili as you like.

Put 1/2 teaspoon of limejuice, and some fishsauce to your liking.

(Another way)

Some people don’t like mixed laphet thote. So what you can do is put crispy fried garlic, fried yellow beans, roasted peanuts and salad separately in a flat dish. Mix laphet and oil together (adding lime juice and salt as seasoning) and put them in the plate. The eater can take a little bit of each with his spoon and leave out the parts that he doesn’t like.



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One Response to “Fermented or Pickled Tea Leaf Salad”

  1. catrionakn Says:

    I moved to Yangon one month ago and my first attempt to make pickled tea salad went very badly. Hopefully now I have read your article it will go much better the second time! Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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