Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lahpet: The Pickled Tea of Burma

You may have heard about tea being brewed and drunk as a beverage, but it is unlikely that you have heard of people eating tea. You will be surprised to know that Lahpet is a pickled tea leaf preparation that is considered a delicacy in Burma. The fermented tea leaf pickle or salad comes in two forms, the regular every day pickle that is served with meals and the more elaborate Mandalay lahpet or Ahlu lahpet. The Mandalay lahpet is served in a compartmented tray, with the tea leaf pickle at the center, with fried garlic flakes, roasted peas, roasted peanuts, roasted sesame seeds, dry fish and shrimp, pickled ginger, fried coconut pieces and other exotica like fried grubs and other insects.

Traditionally, lahpet is offered to guests during ceremonies, to monks on their initiation, and to the gods of the forests. It was also used as a peace offering after war, as a symbol of putting the past behind.

Image from Koocrow at Edibly Asian, see link in post body.

The best recipe for lahpet is the one I found at Edibly Asian, which is where I borrowed the image from too.

Here is another middle of the road recipe for making pickled tea. And here is a more detailed one. If you are more of a visual learner, here is one with a video.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Brew from the Blue Mountains

I visited Tamil Nadu and Kerala on work as a younger person, but not with the time and leisure to explore the tea of the region.  When I did pick up store bought tea that claimed to come from the south of India, it was almost always a disappointment on all counts other than cuppage.  So it was with some pleasure (and lot of goading by a friend) that I discovered pure leaf teas from the blue mountain thanks to a friend who was more excited about it than I was.

Of greater interest to me till this point was the amazing natural beauty of this region and the richness of its indigenous cultures.  Most of the tea growers and pickers are from the indigenous Badaga people (though there is ample evidence that they actually were migrants from neighboring Karnataka), with their white mundu and dhoti.  The word Nilgiri (Blue Mountain) also turned up in the context of Nilgiri Oil, a brand name that has now acquired a broader genericity, given to Eucalyptus oil from this region.  This naming also embodies the destruction of the Nilgiri Biosphere since neither tea nor eucalyptus (nor wattle for that matter, which is also majorly cultivated in the region) are native to this region.  As a result, much of the natural fauna and flora have slowly been edged toward endangerment, much like the grassland fauna of Andhra Pradesh.  The Asian elephant, the gaur or Indian bison, and many other birds, as well as plants of this biosphere are today listed as near extinction.  You can google the Nilgiri Biosphere to know more about this.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tell them that it's human nature...

“Tea means social connection and the luxury of enjoying the moment in the presence of a fine, carefully prepared beverage. Tea gives us the opportunity to set aside our concerns, absorb our surroundings, and take pleasure in the company of our companions in a clam, relaxed way. It is gratifying for me to see how urban consumers are rediscovering their love affair with tea” ~ Thong Q Le

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Letting tea play

If you are reading this shortly after I have posted it, and it is evening, do take a look at the milad moon.

A week of valentines, grammy awards, nichiren daishonin's and worldtech's birthdays, milad un nabi, and minimalist for gmail as we get over our frustration at the last post which taught us how to make a good cup of tea.  This time we discuss things that can be played with.  No, not plastic inflatables, but stuff a shade less serious like time, temperature, type of water, additives like sugar, or herbs.

But first a great menu for Kerala style chicken.  This beats anything else I know hollow, and no, it is not the Utupura recipe. Yes this post is still about brewing tea.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An Adda of One?

I have a lot of friends who, like me, enjoy their cup of fine tea, the right way, and with discrimination.  Regardless of whether it be a fanning that can be bought off the street for under 800 bucks or a pure single crop, they relish their moments with their brew with a spiritual intensity that is impossible to describe in words.  While tea is most frequently shared in a community setting, or a family/friend setting, it is also equally frequently shared only with the select, sometimes as select as alone.

Yet, the ritual, the ceremony of a cup of tea remains as mystic as an adda of one.  Like the walking addas of our student days where we walked with the sole intention of being able to exchange thoughts and ideas, songs and bottles (or whatever) as we emulated our grandparents who did the same thing at the Lake or in the idyll lanes of Regent Estate, a cup of tea often became the starting point for a series of walks homeward.  I drop you, but then you drop me, and how can we not stop for a cup of tea and say hi to all the other losers.  I drop you.

An adda is a stimulation of the social network, and for the impaired or the schizophrenic, it can turn into quite a riot.  Ask me.  Kidding.  Who typed that?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Welcome to Blend of Tea...

Blend of Tea is not about blended tea but about blend of tea and the varied facets of existence.  I hope you stay to find what you came seeking.  We cannot yet afford a website (though we hope to soon), hence this blog.  Keep coming back.  Maybe we will find out how to make a cup right and savor the mysticity of life.