Burmese Tea Leaf (Lahpet) Salad

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad Mixed

After a Saturday breakfast of chocolate chip cookie dough :-), this light Burmese tea leaf salad was perfect! Made with fermented tea leaves, cabbage, tomato, peanuts, sesame seeds and fried channa dal, Burmese tea leaf salad is tangy, nutty and fabulous. The first time I had tea leaf salad was at Burma Superstar in San Francisco. I would say that Burma Superstar is in my top 5 favorite restaurants. If you live in SF or visit there, it is a must go.

Unfortunately, fermented tea leaves, called lahpet, are almost impossible to find. From Absolutely Monica’s blog, either there are trade embargoes that prevent imports from Burma or they may contain an ingredient that is unfit for human consumption.  A while back I did find some I could order online, but ended up looking rotten, so I threw them out. Then amazingly enough, a new Burmese restaurant in Monterey Park (LA area) opened call Daw Yee Myanmar Cafe and THEY SELL THE TEA LEAVES! I hope they don’t contain this toxic ingredient, but considering how everything else these days seems to be bad for us, I decided to not worry about it :-/

If you can’t get the fermented tea leaves, this Burmese ginger salad is also supper yummy!

Daw Yee Myanmar Cafe is very good and I based my tea leaf recipe on theirs because I like the idea of cabbage instead of romaine. I used this picture and info on Tasting Table as a guide, but omitted the dried shrimp and used Healthy Boy Soy Bean Paste, lemon, and the garlic oil for a dressing instead of fish sauce. Channa dal can be found at any Indian market.

Since we had some frozen samosas, I also whipped up a half batch of samusa soup, leaving out the more time consuming kala channa, to round out our lunch.

Lephet Fermented Tea Leaves

Yellow Bean PasteBurmese Tea Leaf Salad

Lephet Fermented Tea Leaves 2

1/4 cup channa dal
Olive or coconut oil for frying
7-8 garlic cloves sliced (I didn’t have enough, hence the small amount of garlic in the picture!)
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
3 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 cup cabbage chopped
1 roma tomato chopped
1 tablespoon of the leftover garlic oil
Juice from a lemon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon soy bean paste (it is so hard to get the stuff out, I use a chopstick and I’m not sure how much I’m really getting out!) or if you don’t have it, just add a little salt
1 packet fermented tea leaves

  1. Either soak the channa dal overnight or boil for a few minutes until they are slightly tender. Dry out on a towel.
  2. Heat a shallow pan with oil (just enough to barely deep fry the channa dal and garlic). Add the channa dal and fry until crispy. Remove from oil and drain on a towel or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. In the same oil fry the garlic until crisp. Remove from oil and drain on towel or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Save oil.
  4. If your peanuts and sesame seeds aren’t toasted (or were store bought “toasted”), toast them. For peanuts, I find that 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven works well. For sesame seeds, just toast in a skillet over medium heat watching them constantly! It is very common for me to have to throw out one batch of sesame seeds because I’ve burnt them :-/
  5. Chop up your cabbage and tomatoes.
  6. Mix together your dressing ingredients: garlic oil, lemon, soy bean paste or salt.
  7. Lay out your salad on a plate all pretty, take a picture, then pour the dressing over it and mix!