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.