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Tea leaf salad, also known as “Lahpet Thoke,” is a traditional and iconic dish from Myanmar (Burma). This unique and vibrant salad features fermented tea leaves as the star ingredient, providing a complex and distinctive flavor profile. Packed with nutrients and bursting with flavors, tea leaf salad is a delightful combination of textures and tastes that will tantalize your taste buds. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of tea leaf salad, highlight its health benefits, and guide you through the process of making this flavorful dish.

Origin and Cultural Significance

Tea leaf salad holds deep cultural significance in Myanmar. It is often shared among friends and family as a symbol of hospitality, togetherness, and celebration. Tea leaves have been used in traditional Burmese cuisine for centuries, and the art of fermenting the leaves to develop their unique flavors is a cherished culinary tradition.

Health Benefits of Tea Leaf Salad

Tea leaf salad not only satisfies the palate but also offers a range of health benefits:

  1. Antioxidant Powerhouse: Fermented tea leaves are rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body against free radicals and oxidative stress. These antioxidants have potential anti-inflammatory properties and can support overall well-being.
  2. Gut Health Support: Fermented foods, including tea leaves, contain beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome is linked to improved digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function.
  3. Nutrient-Rich: Tea leaf salad is a nutrient-dense dish. In addition to the tea leaves, it often includes a variety of fresh vegetables, such as cabbage, tomatoes, and green beans, which provide vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
  4. Flavorful and Satisfying: The combination of fermented tea leaves, crunchy vegetables, toasted nuts, and savory seasonings creates a complex and satisfying flavor profile. This can help enhance the enjoyment of your meals and promote mindful eating.

Making Tea Leaf Salad at Home

While traditionally prepared with fermented tea leaves, you can create a delicious version of tea leaf salad using readily available ingredients. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:


  • 1 cup fermented tea leaves (available at specialty Asian grocery stores or online)
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup green beans, blanched and chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts or sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup fried garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce for a vegetarian option)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Chili flakes (optional for added heat)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


  1. Rinse the fermented tea leaves under cold water to remove any excess salt or bitterness. Squeeze out any excess water and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the tea leaves, shredded cabbage, cherry tomatoes, green beans, peanuts (or sesame seeds), and fried garlic.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce (or soy sauce), lime juice, sesame oil, and chili flakes (if desired).
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad mixture and toss well to combine, ensuring the ingredients are evenly coated.
  5. Allow the salad to marinate for about 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  6. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves before serving.

Enjoying Tea Leaf Salad

Tea leaf salad is typically served as a main dish or as part of a larger Burmese meal. To enjoy it fully, mix the ingredients thoroughly, allowing the flavors to meld together. The combination of textures and tastes will delight your senses. Savor each bite, and embrace the cultural experience of this iconic Burmese dish.

Tea leaf salad is not only a delicious and unique culinary adventure but also a nutritious addition to your diet. Its combination of fermented tea leaves, fresh vegetables, and flavorful seasonings offers a range of health benefits and a memorable dining experience. So, gather your ingredients, explore the world of tea leaf salad, and embark on a flavorful journey inspired by Myanmar’s rich culinary heritage.