tea time treats

pickled tea leaves

taken from hsa*ba, burmese cookbook

Off the main road, down a small muddy track, we stumbled upon a few houses where piles of tea leaves were left on bamboo mats to dry in the open air. This reminded me of pickled tea leaves (laphet), one of my favourite nibbles.

Laphet is essentially green tea. The young leaves are plucked, steamed and buried underground from four to seven months for the fermentation process to take place. When the pickled tea leaves are ready, they are eaten with crispy garlic, sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, dried shrimps, fried butter beans and chana dal.

Traditionally laphet is served when we receive visitors, in an elaborately decorated lacquerware with different compartments to house each ingredient. A little of each crispy titbit and laphet are spooned straight into the mouth and savoured slowly, sometimes with a bite of raw garlic and green chilli. A cup of hot tea completes the ritual.

For those new to laphet, I premix the salad, tossing in a little onion oil, diced tomato then season with a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of fish sauce. This salad makes a great appetiser served with a cool glass of beer to whet the appetite.


  1. Ivy on November 20, 2008 at 3:00 am

    I would love to try laphet. Is it available in Chinese supermarkets?

  2. Cho on November 26, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Ivy

    For laphet you need to find a Burmese supplier. Check out these sites:


    – Cho

  3. diana on December 2, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    could you please help me with a recipe for gyinto / gyinthouk, the ginger and sesame seed salad? I’ve looked everywhere and found nothing to date! also have you any other uncooked dishes, I’m a ‘living food’ chef and like to experiment!! kind regards and thank you, Diana

  4. Cho on December 3, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Hi Diana

    Ginger salad is very similar to Laphet thote, made with very young ginger which has thin, almost transparent skin and slightly pink. I’ll email you with more details.

    As for other uncooked dishes, the Burmese salad (thote) is a great one to try. Once you know the salad flavouring, you can play around with the main ingredients, from cabbage (Burmese coleslaw), green mango to kohlrabi and my favourite, lemon salad.

    – Cho