by Emeric Harney April 07, 2022 4 min read
If you’re wondering if this is some sort of belated April Fool’s Day joke, let us assure you it is not! Pickled tea has been around for centuries, dating back to ancient Burma (now Myanmar) when it was used as a peace offering between warring kingdoms – a “peaceteaty” if you will! Today, lahpet – the Burmese word for “pickled tea” – is considered one of Myanmar’s national dishes. It is frequently made at large family gatherings and celebrations, and is offered to welcome guests.
Green tea is the national drink of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country. Tea grows natively in that country; like so many other ideas that people get, who knows where the idea of pickling tea leaves came from. We’ll just leave it at “buttermilk” and call it a day. Fermentation is and always will be a thing.
Back in the day, lahpet was made by placing the buds of a young tea plant into a bamboo container, burying it by the riverside and leaving it be for several months. Even now, those who are dedicated to making lahpet the traditional way will steam the buds to release the tea’s juices that will serve as the pickling liquid, place them in large, covered containers and bury them for three to six months. What lahpet purists like about this method is that there are no additives of any type. The tea just pickles itself (feels like some kind of tongue twister’s in there with “pea tickles” and “tea pickles,” but we’ll save that for another blog!).
For those who can’t wait months for the tea leaves to ferment, there is a perfectly acceptable way for you to pickle tea in a vastly shorter period of time. Once you have your pickled tea, you’ll want to use it in a traditional Myanmar pickled tea leaves salad called Lahpet Thoke. Pickled tea is generally used to flavor foods rather than to be drunk. Hopefully we didn’t wait too late to mention that.
4 tbsp dried high-quality green tea leaves, like Lung Ching
4 cloves garlic
¼ tsp dried chili flakes
2 tsp lime juice
1 inch ginger
Salt to taste
⅔ C vegetable oil
Note: If mold growing on your tea leaves at room temperature is a concern, mix the tea leaves along with the other ingredients in a food processor, then let the leaf mixture pickle in the refrigerator instead for 4-5 days or longer.Print the recipe card here.
Now that you have your lahpet dressing, it’s time to make the traditional Myanmar dish, Pickled Tea Leaves Salad, or Lahpet Thoke.
Fried Yellow Peas or Chickpeas:
Assemble the Salad:
Print the recipe card here.
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