Absolutely Monica



Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad


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Approximate Prep time:
Cooking time:
Total time:
Makes: 4 servings

After searching far and wide for fermented tea leaves, also known as Laphet, I finally found them through a retailer in the UK. I ended up spending about $40 for two packages of them to be sent to the US. When they arrived, it wasn't what I was expecting. The packaged tea leaves from Burma were musty, sour and yellowish, and actually, kind of gross. This wasn't how I remembered the fermented tea leaves in the famous salad I had in San Francisco. After reading about all of the unsafe dyes used in many of the tea leaves coming out of Burma, I got a little scared. I tried a small piece and then ended up tossing them. This recipe is my version of the popular dish, without using the fermented tea leaves from Burma, and my substitution until I make my way back to SF!

Tea Leaves:


  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup fried garlic
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, unsalted
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)


Bring the tea leaves, white vinegar and water to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until soft. Rinse with cool water and remove any twigs or hard pieces from the leaves. Strain completely, squeezing the leaves to remove as much moisture as you can.

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad Burmese Tea Leaf Salad
photos show before and after boiling the tea leaves

Put the tea leaves in a food processor and while it is running drizzle the sesame oil, olive oil, Maggi seasoning and fish sauce, scraping the sides often.

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

Process the tea leaf mixture until the leaves are finely minced. Add additional fish sauce or Maggi seasoning if you want bolder flavors. Set aside while you prepare the salad.

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad
"fermented" tea leaves

Chop the romaine lettuce and layer it on a serving platter. Remove the seeds and dice the tomatoes and pile them on top of the lettuce. Finely chop the jalapeno and remove the seeds from the lemon wedges and add these to the platter. Pile each of the remaining ingredients on the salad and spoon about half of the tea leaf mixture in the middle, reserving the other half for later. (It will keep, refridgerated for up to three weeks).

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad
Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

Just before serving, squeeze the lemon wedges over the salad, and toss everything together well, be sure to evenly distribute the tea leaves.

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

This recipe uses ingredients that are found at most Asian markets, when possible I have provided additional information about the exact ingredients I have used, with photos. Click on the ingredient names to view details.


Published: May 3, 2011




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