This Burmese Tea Leaf Salad Is Replete With Comfort

Burmese tea leaf salad, or Lahpet Thoke, is a popular evening snack in Myanmar. It is also eaten together with the main meal as a side dish. It is tasty, refreshing and nutritious. You would need fermented tea leaves, which, if not available, can be made at home with dried green tea leaves. If you have ready-made fermented tea leaves, then it takes 3 hours to make but if you ferment the tea leaves at home it takes 2 days, but it is worth the effort as the salad can be kept in the fridge and eaten over a long period of time.  

The origins of Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

Tea is not just drunk in Myanmar but also eaten, primarily as pickled tea leaf. Lahpet or pickled tea leaves is consumed as a delicacy in Myanmar. In ancient times, Lahpet was offered as a peace gesture among warring factions. There are two different kinds of Lahpet salads, which is Mandalay lahpet, and the other is served during meals. 

Below is a recipe of Lahpet Thoke, suited to the Indian palate: 

Preparation time: 1 hour or 2 days

Cook time: 3 hours

Total time: 4 hours

Cuisine: Burmese

Course: Snack, salad

Diet: Vegetarian

Difficulty level: Moderate

Servings: 2


    1 cup fermented green tea leaves

    1 cup finely shredded cabbage

    1 tablespoon peanut oil

    1 lime’s juice squeezed

    4 teaspoons tamarind juice

    1 tablespoon slightly browned or roasted sesame seeds

    1 tablespoon slightly browned or roasted pumpkin seeds

    1 tablespoon slightly browned or roasted chopped peanuts1 tablespoon dried shrimp/4-5 freshly fried shrimp (optional)

     ¼ cup of finely chopped cilantro

    ¼ cup green onions

    1 tablespoon crisply fried chopped garlic

    1 tablespoon crisply fried thin onion slices

    1 tablespoon chopped ginger root

    1 teaspoon garlic chilli oil

    Non-vegetarians can add half teaspoon fish sauce to the garlic chilli oil

Preparation to ferment the tea leaves

Soak dried green tea leaves in two cups of hot water for 8-10 minutes. Drain the leaves and squeeze it to remove excess water, then put it in lukewarm water and mash it slightly. Drain and remove excess water-repeat more, then soak in cold water for an hour. Drain the tea leaves, removing excess water.


     Chop the fermented tea leaves

     Mix with shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, green onions, chopped ginger root, crisply fried garlic and onions, salt, lime juice, and tamarind juice

     Serve the salad with roasted sesame seeds, heated peanut oil slightly cooked with garlic slices, garlic chilli oil, non-vegetarians can add fish sauce and dried shrimp, but for the Indian palette, it is advised to use fried fresh shrimp in place of fish sauce and dried shrimp

     Add salt as per your taste and mix

About the ingredients

Fermented green tea leaves: This is the main ingredient that adds flavour to the salad. Ensure that the tea leaves, either fermented or readymade, are of high quality.

Garlic oil: This ingredient is needed to mix the salad. Groundnut/olive/sesame oil is fried with a few chopped garlic cloves.

Roasted peanuts, sesame, chopped ginger root: These are important ingredients to add flavour and crunch to the salad